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Suspend him or not: David Clarkson hits Sergei Gonchar from behind, fights twice

David Clarkson had a night from hell Saturday, and he made Montreal’s Sergei Gonchar pay for his struggles. Clarkson threw Gonchar into the boards from behind on a dirty hit that could be worth a suspension.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The stat line said it all Saturday night for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ David Clarkson.

Two minutes and 31 seconds of ice time. 27 penalty minutes. Ejected from the game for a dangerous hit on Montreal’s Sergei Gonchar.

In short: a disaster.

After a week in which he was twice a healthy scratch, Clarkson tried to be a physical presence against Montreal on Saturday night and only managed to cost his team and himself.

First, Clarkson went after a tired Brandon Prust for a one-sided fight in which Prust simply held on and waited for Clarkson to finish. That earned Clarkson an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the fact.

Then Clarkson stapled Gonchar to the boards with a hit from behind, injuring the Canadiens defenceman and drawing Nathan Beaulieu into a fight. Beaulieu received an instigator penalty for the fight and Clarkson was thrown out of the game with a game misconduct.

And that was it.

Here’s the hit. Clarkson was penalized for the play and Gonchar did not return to the game, so it’s possible he could face a fine or suspension.

Clarkson has been an unmitigated disaster in Toronto. He might as well wear No. 525 on his back nowadays for the $5.25 million he’s owned this season and for five more after that. He’s improved on last year’s stats with 10 goals and 15 points (he had five goals and 11 points last year), but he’s still nowhere near what he needs to be.

And he’s not going anywhere. There’s not a team in the league that would take that contract and term off the Leafs’ hands.

At this point, Clarkson is simply an anchor the Leafs can tie to their leg before they jump in the lake. If the Leafs are intent on rebuilding, Clarkson’s $5.25-million cap hit can be a chunk of ineffective salary to fill out their cap as they strip the roster down to its bare bones.

Clarkson has been suspended twice since he joined the Leafs at the start of last season, so that will count against him if he faces supplemental discipline.


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