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Clarke MacArthur cleared for contact, inches closer to return from concussion

It’s been another tough road back from a concussion, but Clarke MacArthur is inching closer to his return. Senators coach Guy Boucher confirmed MacArthur can take contact and said the 31-year-old looks better every day.

Just days ago Clarke MacArthur said he was targeting a return to the Ottawa Senators’ lineup in roughly one month, and he has taken a big step towards that goal by getting the go-ahead to resume contact in practices.

Ahead of Wednesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, Senators coach Guy Boucher announced that MacArthur, 31, has been given the green light to start giving and receiving bodychecks in practice, and Boucher said Ottawa can’t wait to have the veteran winger back in the lineup.

“He’s such a big part of our team that it will obviously change a lot of what we do, power play, 5-on-5, penalty kill and leadership-wise,” Boucher said, via TSN 1200.

MacArthur has been on the shelf since the start of the season after suffering a concussion during a training camp scrimmage, which made for the fourth head injury he has had to deal with less than two years. Making matters all the more heartbreaking, though, was that the injury came as MacArthur was attempting to make his comeback to the lineup after missing all but four games in 2015-16 due to a concussion that was bad enough he had thoughts of retirement.

Despite the recent concussion, though, MacArthur said he intended on getting healthy and contributing to the team this season, and told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch that one of the main reasons he wanted to get back to action was to fulfill his contract. The four games he played during the 2015-16 season have been his only action on his current five-year, $23.25-million deal. He signed the deal in August 2014.

There are positive signs for MacArthur beyond being cleared for contact, too. Boucher said Wednesday that MacArthur has looked better every day in both his physical capabilities and his demeanor. Boucher added it feels as if MacArthur could be cleared for his return any day.

“He looks so good out there, and he’s looked so good for a while now, but it’s really being smart and taking the right steps,” Boucher said. “Health is first…Now it’s just a matter of time before we get the OK, but we’re going to wait until it’s the right and we’re told that this is the right time in his mind, right time medically and the right time physically.”

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