Well this years biggest fish in Free Agency landed with the leafs and the fans and media have drooled all over the signing. David Clarkson is a hulking, moderately young winger, who can bang, and score at a good pace. I feel like its irrelavent to sit here and worry about the contract since teams have proved that it is possible to trade long contracts see: Flyers and also that it is possible to develop a Stanley Cup competitive team with long contracts, again see: Flyers and Kings.
The major issue revolving around the signing of Clarkson is the way in which he is being personified in the Toronto media. David Clarkson is NOT Wendel Clark and the sooner those in Toronto except the better the connection the fans will have with the now to be long time Leaf.
If we look at the comparisons of the two players we will not find many similarities. Clark's first 7 years in the NHL left him with 239 points as a significantly younger player than Clarkson also. Clarkson has only been able to amass 170 points. So stats wise the former Leaf captain wins, however, it is not the stats this writer is overly worried about. The two players represent different characteristics and are fundamentally different in their makeup.
*Was the Toronto Maple Leafs last 1st overall pick.
*He had the skill to play both Defence and Forward.
*Was the Heart of many Maple Leafs teams and fought wars for an organization that rotted in the NHL's basement for many years.
*He was feared by the opposition and significantly impacted the way another teams first line played on a given night.
*It was known by many that had Clark not been so team oriented and used his skill more than his body and fists he could have been a much more offensively dominant player.
*His leadership was stuff of legend and most leaf captains are held to a "Clark Standard".
*Lastly he was the most successful small bodied power forward in a league full of big bodies such as Neely, Lindros, Andreychuk and Nieuwendyk all of whom were over 6" feet tall.
*Wendel Clark defined the age of the Warriors from the late 70's to late 80' draft classes.
CLOSEST COMPARISON- Milan Lucic to me would be nearest thing to Wendel Clark. In part to Lucic's size, skill, impact on a game and his impact on his organization.
*Has a phyisical presence and above average NHL offensive skill.
*Was a piece of the Devils organization but is eons away from being touted as the heart of that franchise.
*Regardless of what many might think Clarkson does not have the offensive second gear that Clark did and his contributions offensively to the Leafs will be based on chemistry with his linemates.
*Yes he does have leadership qualities but does not have the Captaincy track record of Clark through his first 7 years in the NHL.
*He fits the mould of most 2nd to high 3rd line power forwards and is not a benchmark for power forwards in the league as a Lucic, Horton, Ryan, James Neal, and even a Hartnell when healthy.
*Clarkson fits the bill of the overpaid Free Agent who has many intangibles but none that can make him a star...(which is not a bashing it is just truth).
CLOSEST COMPARISON- Would have to be a mix of the intensity of Darcy Tucker with the body of Gary Roberts. I firmly believe Clarkson will be able to come close to having the same impact Roberts did on the Maple Leafs when signed. By providing leadership on and off the ice and sustaining the persona of Carlysle, just as Roberts did for Quinn.
David Clarkson is an absolutely great addition for the Toronto Maple Leafs and I am not trying to downplay the acquisition of a solid middle 6 forward. All I ask of Leaf Nation is to not compare Clarkson to a Leaf Legend.
OH REALLY!!!- Tim Leiweke definitely takes this cake. Mr. Tim believes the Maple Leafs need to move on from their past. To the point he wants to take down the black and white pictures of past Leaf Greats. Now i know Leaf Fans are up in arms and you feel like we need to hold onto our past, OH REALLY!!! What Leaf fans are missing is that the New CEO is trying to install a new Tradition that is based on winning. This will allow the now, kids of Leaf Nation to one day have the same stories of the Grandfathers of this current generation of Leaf Nation. I do not want the Leafs Greats to be taken off the walls of the ACC but if CEO Tim brings a new Stanley Cup winning wave. Then maybe we will be able to stop talk about how the Leafs came back to beat the Red Wings after being down 3-0 in 42. Maybe we will have new stories to tell our Grandchildren.