A small round of applause is due to David Clarkson: he finally scored his first goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs after 10 games of utter futility.
The goal came during the third period of yesterday’s game against the New York Islanders and helped the Leafs secure an eventual 5-2 victory at home.
Clarkson was added during the off-season at considerable expense to increase the Leafs’ physical presence on the ice, but his secondary ability to score goals was always considered a bonus. Hence, the call to celebrate what should otherwise be seen as a minor accomplishment.
Through 437 career games at the NHL level, Clarkson has 98 goals. His goal production, however, has increased dramatically over the past two season, peaking in 2011-2012 when he scored 30 goals across 80 games for the New Jersey Devils.
Having said that, Clarkson has struggled this year to find consistency and a proper role on the Leafs after missing the first ten games of the season. He missed those games due to suspension – an automatic suspension that resulted from his incredibly poor decision to leave the bench mid-game. Clarkson stepped onto the ice as the extra man in a bizarre melee between the Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres when he should have just stayed put.
A native of Toronto, Clarkson naturally grew-up supporting the Leafs and was asked by the media afterwards if the goal meant something special to him since it was scored on home ice. Always the team player, Clarkson focussed on the win, not his personal milestone.
“The biggest thing is we won the game. I tried to preach the whole time that the chances were there, but I’m here to win,” he told reporters. “Yeah, it does feel good to get some people off my back, but it’s all part of the game. When you are getting chances, it’s eventually going to come. The big thing is as a team we did some good things tonight.”
Clarkson’s slump-busting goal came at the perfect time for the Leafs. The team is battling several key injuries and the extra offence never hurts. He aims for his second goal on the season tomorrow night.
Follow me on Twitter for regular posts about sports (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs), politics and other news topics: @williamefwilson