Reasons for Optimism: Clarke MacArthur

Rich Lam

The 2013-2014 Ottawa Senators season was a disappointment. Entering year four of the Senate Reform, there is much uncertainty. However, there are also several reasons to smile. This is the second post of five outlining reasons for optimism.

One phrase is definitely ringing in the ears of the management and fans of the Ottawa Senators these days: return packages. With all of the possible departures, line-shuffling ideas, trade rumours and a front office that seems more interested in almost ‘under-floor spending’, it can be hard to find a silver lining.

The proverbial dark clouds above the Canadian Tire Centre do, however, seem to part slightly when our focus is shifted to Clarke MacArthur.

Arriving in Sens-dom from the Bruin-befallen Toronto Maple Leafs after the shortened 2012-13 season, Clarke ‘Grizz’ MacArthur recorded his highest season total for goals (24) and his second highest for points (55) in 2013-14. After the failed (and rather short-lived) experiment of first-lining Bobby Ryan with Jason Spezza, Grizz became a key producer and beneficiary of a machine-esque line with Turris and Ryan that accounted for 73 goals. And those same 73 goals only cost the Sens $11.85 Million in combined salaries. You’d be hard pressed to try and find another line in the NHL that spits out comparable numbers for anywhere near that minimal amount of cash.

Jamie Long of CBC spoke highly of MacArthur in a January 2014 article:

"His plus-11 rating is also far better than any other season he’s had in the NHL. Head coach Paul MacLean has raved about MacArthur’s game and uses him and Turris in all situations."

Call me old-fashioned or a wistful soul, but outside of all of the numbers and quotes, I believe in players that play with grit and heart. Having been lucky enough to attend nearly 35 home games this past season, I saw the RABHA (Red And Black Heart Attack) play a fair amount of hockey, and in an up-close and personal manner. I have a deep, sick and somewhat cursed admiration of this ‘little engine that could’ team. Simply put – I have a dark and dirty love for the Sens. The vast majority of the unit that I saw in 2013-14, however, did not seem to love hockey. They were scattered, unfocused, out of position, and continually making the same mental errors that cost them goals and, ultimately, games.

MacArthur was rarely ever (and almost never) one of those seemingly lost players. He seemed to know what he was sent here to do, and he skated his guts out on every shift. He was deadly at times on both the PK and the PP. I was lucky enough to be at that game against the Wild (yes - we blew another hefty lead) where he made a play for the ages, and fed Turris through his legs for a short-handed highlight-reeler of mythological proportions.

Beyond any hype of his ‘low-cost-star’ tag, Grizz was someone who was constantly referred to, by both Coach Paul Maclean and the other players, as a ‘night-in/night-out’ type of player. No matter the standings or the negative press or the ‘when are we gonna win two in a row’ type stories, Grizz was ready to play every night. Where other players seemed to be residents of DeerHeadlight-ville, MacArthur had his eyes on the prize. His numbers showed it, his ice-time showed it and his explosive speed and determination showed it. At 29, and with only one year left on his contract, MacArthur is a definite reason for optimism, a potential A-wearer, and someone I’d like to see the Sens lock up in a multi-year deal.

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