Today’s 5: Clark & Clarkson, Alfie & Ottawa, Ovechkin, Iginla, & classy Martin Brodeur.

1. David Clarkson returns to Leafs lineup Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Former Maple Leafs captain Wendel Clark. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Former Maple Leafs captain Wendel Clark. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed unrestricted free agent David Clarkson last July to improve forward depth and bolster team toughness. He’s a Toronto boy. Clarkson grew up idolizing Leafs legend Wendel Clark who if you’re old enough to remember, was a merciless madman on skates. Clarkson, whose name includes the word ‘son’ after the prefix ‘Clark,’ is not in fact Clark’s son, but he does hope to play with the same fire and raw tenacity.

In a preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres, Clarkson jumped the boards to interfere in a line brawl involving Leafs sniper Phil Kessel. The second his skates touched ice he automatically crossed a line that warrants a 10-game suspension for all who perpetrate. No exceptions. The fight was a hilarious sideshow more than it was a brawl for the ages. That being said, the melee was sparked by a much more serious event only minutes prior, when aspiring Leafs tough guy Jamie Devane knocked Sabres hopeful Corey Tropp unconscious.

 

 

Clarkson’s involvement in the preseason scrap with the Sabres can be simply explained as a player sticking up for his teammate, just like Wendel in 93′ when Kings’ beast Marty McSorely levelled Leafs all-star Doug Gilmour. Watch that here. And if you’re an old school Leaf fan you may also want to relive the epic brawl at Chicago Stadium between the Leafs and Blackhawks back in 1992. Bryan Marchment and Clark get it going, then everyone else jumps in, including Stu Grimson who turns into the Incredible Hulk, trying to destroy any Leaf he can find.

It’s funny how things have changed. Back in 1992, announcer Jim Hughson gives a full analysis to replay of the on ice feud, in real time. You don’t see that anymore, unless you watch the old clips. Here it is.

The Leafs are 7-3 without their hometown hero in the lineup. The winning record is wonderful, but the Buds have not won dominantly on most nights. Clarkson’s return includes an influx of many attributes the Leafs lineup is sorely missing at the moment, like toughness along the boards, and puck protection in the offensive zone.

Clarkson’s availability puts an end to the stay of 20-year old prospect Josh Leivo who was sent down to the Leafs’ AHL affiliate the Toronto Marlies, this morning. Leivo performed admirably whilst given the chance to play in the NHL.

 

 

2. Daniel Alfredsson faces the Ottawa Senators for the first time since leaving last summer to join the Detroit Red Wings.

When Daniel Alfredsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings last offseason, the hockey world was shocked. Alfie was supposed to be a Sen for life – one of those rare players who remain with one club the entire duration of their career, just like Steve Yzerman and Ray Bourque – oh wait. Alfredsson’s days in the Show are numbered. The former Sens captain is 40 years old and he’s never won the Stanley Cup. If Ray Bourque can leave Boston in quest of hockey’s finest prize, Daniel Alfredsson can leave Ottawa for the same reason.

In explanation for signing with the Wings over the Sens, Alfredsson told media, “I had not won a Stanley Cup and that’s a big priority for me.” You can read the full article entitled “Daniel Alfredsson Leaves Ottawa For Red Wings” here, courtesy of CBC.

Cups and legacies and dreams aside, many lean toward the notion that the real reason Alfredsson left his longtime home team is because the Swedish Olympic gold medalist was mistreated in contract talks.

Alfredsson explained his side of the story in a prepared statement he read at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre as he said goodbyes to the city he’s called home his entire adult life. Here is an excerpt from Alfredsson’s statement:

“When I did my last contract for four years ending in the [2012-13] season, I was asked to help the team manage the salary cap by adding on an extra year to my contract,” he said. “I agreed. Each side fully expected I would retire and not play the 2012-13 season. However, after the 2012 season, I told the Sens I wanted to play another season. I also asked that we look at a possible extension for this upcoming season, at a fair amount, to balance out the two years for both of us. [The Senators] agreed.

“Sadly, the contract negotiations went nowhere, but I played out the season as I had promised. In late June, I decided I had it in me to play at least one more season. I told management that I was willing to return, and I reminded them of our agreement from the year before. But, to my disappointment, negotiations again quickly stalled.” Courtesy of NHL.com. Read full article here.

Only Alfredsson knows the true reason(s) he chose to sign with the Detroit Red Wings. And maybe he made the right call. At the moment, his new team is off to a better start than his old. The Wings’ 13 points sit them 2nd in the Central, 5 points ahead of the Senators. Plus, Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

Tonight’s game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit marks the first time in his 17-year pro career Alfredsson will play against the Sens. It’s an exciting moment in the NHL season, but not nearly as noteworthy as Alfie’s homecoming, which will take place Sunday, December 1st at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.

3. Alex Ovechkin scoring at the most prominent pace in his NHL career.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Ovechkin has been a scoring machine since he joined the NHL in 2005-06 as a twenty year old kid. The Great 8 has buried 380 goals in only 610 games, ranking him 3rd all-time in goals per game – not including players who did their goal gettin’ in the 1800’s.The NHL is old.

Ovechkin’s 0.623 GPG average ties him with fellow Russian Pavel Bure for third spot in history. Ovechkin and Bure share something else in common. OV has scored 31 goals over his last 30 games. The last time a player performed at such a rapid scoring proficiency over a span of 30 contests was when Bure potted 30 in 30 back in 2001.

Ovechkin scored 2-goals last night in the Caps win over the Jets. You can see those goals here, courtesy of the NHL’s YouTube channel.

His goal a game pace projects him into the 80 goal territory if he can maintain it all season long. The last NHLer to score more than 80 in a single season was Brett Hull in 1991-92. Ovechkin’s current coach Adam Oates was Hull’s line mate, and main assist man throughout the magical 91-92 campaign. If there is a secret to scoring 80, Oates’ likely knows it.

4. Iginla scoreless as a Boston Bruin.

Jarome Iginla. We thought he was a Bruin, then he was a Penguin, now he’s actually a Bruin. And unlike the beginning to his tenure with the Pens, Iginla is not lighting it up with goals. In fact, he has scored 0 in his first 7 games with the B’s.

On Saturday night he was either frustrated or he just likes punching people in the head, because Iggy picked a fight with Bolts tough guy Radko Gudas.

Iginla has dropped the mitts and tossed em twice this season, and both times it was Radko Gudas he danced with. Maybe they don’t like each other. Watch Iginla vs Gudas II here.

The Bruins play the Buffalo Sabres tonight – the last place Sabres – 1 win in 10 tries Sabres – the 5 entry level contracts in the lineup Sabres. Needless to say, tonight is a great opportunity for Iggy to break out of his slump.

The Sabres have allowed 28 goals against through their 10 games played. Twenty-eight isn’t terrible, but scoring is an issue for the Atlantic Division bottom feeders. They have scored a mere 13 goals so far this campaign.

5. The always classy Martin Brodeur endorses Cory Schneider as the Devils’ starting goalie.

Devils legend Martin Brodeur. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Devils legend Martin Brodeur. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Martin Brodeur on Cory Schneider courtesy of Tom Gulitti of The Record, New Jersey Devils beat writer:

“I think he’s in the net now to stay,” Brodeur said today. “I don’t see that’s going to be changed any time soon. I’ll be ready if it is, but I think we’ve got to try to win some games somehow. This is what [head coach Pete DeBoer] feels is the best opportunity for him to be successful is having [Schneider] in the net and that’s fine. If we win, everybody’s happy. Even though I don’t play, it’s more enjoyable to be around.”

It will be a long season for the Devils unless they start winning games soon. The plus for them, the rest of their division is also slumbering. The bad news – injuries, player turnover, and what is generally accepted as a B level roster will make regular winning a difficult task this year. That being said, it’s great to see the always classy Martin Brodeur is in it to win it, even if that means spending time as backup for the first stretch in his twenty-plus year Hall of Fame career.