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Despite ‘nightmare’ season, Clarkson excited for future

Aug 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

David Clarkson Getty Images

You won’t find many people that are willing to defend David Clarkson‘s production in 2013-14, especially given that Clarkson himself openly acknowledged that things didn’t go well.

“It’s easy to have excuses, but you go back to work,” said Clarkson, per the Toronto Sun. “Everybody goes through tough times, tough days and tough years. From top to bottom, that was something I’ve never been through. Suspended, injured and to come back injured again trying to play … it was just a nightmare.”

He ended up with just five goals and 11 points in 60 games, which is obviously not what the Leafs were hoping for when they signed him to a seven-year, $36.75 million contract in the summer of 2013.

Clarkson has gotten a chance to spend time with his young family over the summer, but he’s also focused on his training with Andy O‘Brien, who works with Sidney Crosby among others. He’s had a chance to talk with team president Brendan Shanahan as well, who expects Clarkson to improve substantially in 2014-15.

In spite of what happened, the 30-year-old forward remains equally upbeat.

“Obviously there were a lot of tough breaks that went on for me, but at the end of the day, I feel great and I’m excited for what’s ahead,” Clarkson said. “I’m just looking forward to getting this started.”

Clarkson scored 30 goals with the Devils in 2011-12, but that’s also the only time he even reached the 20-goal mark. He’s a gritty player, but he still needs to prove that he can be a consistent offensive contributor as well.

  1. jinx21fan - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    I keep trying to remind myself he left money on the table from the Oilers to sign with the Leafs. It does little to ease the sick feeling. Hopefully short-term he earns most of his money, and then the cap rises high enough it’s not too bitter of a pill later on. I guess another way to look at it is JVR is playing up to Clarkson’s contract … so there’s that.

  2. phtjoey - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    as a fan of the game i hope the leafs can get their act together. toronto is a huge hockey market, and everyone would benefit from seeing this team raise their level of game. they are the other half of many rivalries.

  3. bsaures - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Theres a very easy explanation as to why his production took a nose dive last year and likely will continue to hower around 20 points. The situation he had in nj was perfect for a player like him. Playing on a strong possesion team helped limit the impact of his subpar skating and the linemates he would play with would generate the chances and let him finish them off. He isnt good at setting up plays so they made him the netfront guy who would tap in rebounds etc. Throw in a good chunk of prime offensive starts and pp time and 45 points should be attainable.

    By contrast in toronto he gets less playong time and a signifigantly less offensive role because a) toronto is a terrible possession team and b) he is behind kessel who will get all the grade A offensive mins. He isnt good enough to generate offense with people like kulIman and Mclement who are the quality of his linemates so if he gets even 30 points I will be shocked

    • jinx21fan - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      I can absolutely assure you no one expected him to reproduce his New Jersey stats. At least I never did. I had no illusions of him being a top 6 in TO. JVR was always going to be the big body on PP1. Many of us had trouble with the contract at the time for what his role here would be. So if you were expecting points, it really does suck.

      I did expect some leadership and hard to play against qualities. With a BIT of a finishing touch. Instead we got a moron running around trying to do way more than he is capable of, or what is expected of him. And for Pete sakes, we expect the PIM’s but enough with the lazy, stupid penalties. Sorry, rant over.

      • bsaures - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        Really all the wendel clark comparisons by fans and the media made me think they thought he would be good. Plenty of fams were singing his praises when he signed

      • jinx21fan - Aug 27, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        True, there was a media buzz. I think more along the lines of we finally signed a “hometown” boy. Any comparison to Wendel would have to be on the physical side of the game (Clarkson never, ever put up “in his prime” Clark numbers). Clarkson also made no secret of the fact Clark was he favourite player, so that may of helped with the connection. But it was only his last two seasons in Jersey he showed a real goal scoring threat. And then he was a one trick pony, a Cy Young candidate. All while given prime ice-time as you noted.

        At the time I hated the term and the money, but I didn’t hate having him on the team. I expected a lot more than he delivered. Again, not even in terms of scoring – although his totals were dismal. I think withseidelinn below outlined the best case scenario.

  4. pjblake2redwings - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    moves like signing David Clarkston to such a high contract are why they are bringin another team to Toronto with the Expansion in 2017.. maybe Toronto will have another cup.. just wont be with the Leafs haha

    • dueman - Aug 27, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      Why are you jumping on the bandwagon here bud? Ya Toronto spent 5 mil on Clarkson based on his 30 goal season, and his following 15 goals in the lock out season, but Detroit spent 5 mil on Stephen Weiss, based on his 20 goal season, and his 1 goal lock out season. Also, even though Clarkson scored only 5 goals, and got only 11 points this last season, he still out performed One goal Weiss, who actually out did himself by scoring 2 goals, and added on 2 assists to boot. But hey, things are looking up for him though, maybe he’ll get 3 goals this year? Maybe he’ll play on a line with Cleary, and they’ll tear up the league….

      My point is, don’t throw rocks, when you live in a glass house. Every team has some contracts that they would like to take back, and every team has a player or two that has had a bad year or two, or sometimes three. Anyways, you get my point. I would like to see both Toronto, and Detroit get better, and get that rivalry back, because I live in Windsor (right across the river from Detroit) and half my buddies are Detroit fans, and the other half, including me, are Leaf fans, and when both teams are playing good, the rivalry is that much better! Good luck this year…

      • j22j - Aug 27, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        well said dueman

  5. withseidelinn - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    I think the best use for him in Toronto is to play 3rd line minutes with Komarov and Kontiola or Santorelli as the 3C. Him and Komarov together would be an absolute nightmare in terms of physicality and getting under the skin of other players. Give him some limited PP time on the 2nd unit, and he might be able to reach 15 goals. I can’t really see him doing more than 30 pts, so his contract will always be overvalued, but there’s really no where to go but up from here.

  6. georgejarkko - Aug 28, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    This season really can’t be any worse for him. As long as he doesn’t leave the bench for anything besides his regular shifts, things are bound to improve.

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