Devils goalie Martin Brodeur calls at least once every week to see how one of his best friends in hockey is doing. David Clarkson, now with the Maple Leafs after six seasons in Jersey, usually sounds good over the phone even though his first season in Toronto has been a nightmare. "I feel for him," Brodeur said. "I talk to him a lot and I said, 'Listen, things will turn around.'" The Leafs paid high for Clarkson last summer, committing $36.7 million over seven years to the unrestricted free agent with expectations they’d be getting the same gritty, goal-scoring right wing that Jersey had. Thus far, this new marriage between an Original 6 team that hasn't won a Cup since 1967 and an NHL vet who was dying to play for his hometown team has been a disaster. Clarkson, who will face his former club for the second time this season Saturday night at Air Canada Centre, has just three goals and five assists in 33 games. He’s also sat out 12 games serving two suspensions, missed another with a foot injury, and his team, a historic Game 7 choke from upsetting Boston in the playoffs last spring, is underachieving. “I like to tell him, ‘I told you so!’” Brodeur, who isn't scheduled to play Saturday, said with a chuckle. He was kidding. “For selfish reasons I was saying that,” Brodeur said. “I wanted him to stay.” They grew tight playing six-plus seasons together in Jersey, and they’re still as close as ever. When the Devils played in Toronto in November, Brodeur's wife made the trip and stayed at Clarkson’s home to spend time with his wife. "He'll be alright," Brodeur said. “His wife is expecting a second child and he just moved into a new house, so there’s a lot of things going on. "It's just a matter of everything falling the wrong way for him, a little nagging injuries, the suspensions, a lot of things that I’m sure he didn’t see coming in his first 3-4 months as a Maple Leaf.” Who foresees getting suspended for the first 10 games of the regular season? It happened to Clarkson, who received an automatic suspension because he left the Leafs bench during a preseason game to protect new star teammate Phil Kessel, who was involved in a fight with Buffalo Sabres defenseman John Scott. When returning, Clarkson had no goals in his first 10 games. Meantime, he was suspended for two more games in December for a headshot on St. Louis Blues center Vladimir Sobotka, and when playing he never did get hot. All the while, the Leafs got off to a 7-3 start without new their big-money forward in the lineup. Since, they're 14-16-4 and riding a four-game losing streak that has Toronto media and fans debating whether or not coach Randy Carlyle should be fired. As for Clarkson, there's speculation in Edmonton that he could be traded to the Oilers. “I guess he’s having a tough year, but he’s going to be fine,” Devils center Adam Henrique predicted of Clarkson, a 30-goal scorer in 2011-12. “They’re going to love him there because he’s a great teammate. He’s a leader. He sticks up for guys all the time. He’s not afraid to get in there and drop the gloves once in awhile. “He’s a guy that I looked up to here, a guy that took me under his wing. When I was the new guy, he’d talk to you. He’s a guy you want in the room, a great teammate to have on and off the ice.” Some of Clarkson’s other former teammates feel the same.
Good buddy Martin Brodeur, Devils feel for struggling David Clarkson
Newark Star-Ledger | Jan 12