|Chris Clark aims to make his time in Boston more than a tryout||09.19.11 at 7:58 pm ET|
With so few spots available to potentially be had in Boston as the Bruins gear up to defend their Stanley Cup title, the time is now for B’s prospects to show they deserve to play in the NHL this season.
Thirty-five year-old Connecticut native Chris Clark is in town to show that youngsters shouldn’t be the only ones in the equation.
Clark, the former captain of the Capitals and a veteran of 12 seasons, is attending Bruins’ training camp on a tryout, and is hoping to follow an underwhelming and at times injury-plagued stay in Columbus with a season with the defending champs.
“Besides the last couple years when I was injured, playing with injuries and coming off injuries and coming off a couple surgeries, [the Bruins] liked the way I had played previously,” Clark, who was limited to 53 games and 15 points last season due to a lower-body injury, said Monday. “I feel like if I can bring that and continue to bring that to the table, that would be something they were looking for. A good third-fourth, line winger, grind it out, kill penalties, that leader in the locker room, off the ice, stuff like that.”
Leadership is something that might be strange for a newcomer to bring to the table, and though he might not have the Mark Recchi leader-from-Day-1 about him that the retired Bruin showed throughout his two-plus years in Boston, Clark knows he’s capable of making a difference in that area. That isn’t to say he feels the tight-knit Bruins squad is lacking when it comes to character guys.
“They’re very level-headed,” Clark said. “Guys have been great to me, just jumping in here, so it’s something that if it comes to it — I don’t think there’s going to be much this team needs — but obviously it’s good to see someone with more games. They’ve done something I haven’t, but I’ve been around a little while, too.”
Unlike most of the veterans in camp, Clark did not spend the summer celebrating a Cup win. In fact, Clark has never won the trophy in a career that’s taken him to Calgary, Washington and Columbus.
Instead, Clark spent the summer gearing up for his next stop not knowing where it would be, but that he’d finally be healthy.
“It was the first full summer I’ve had in two years of pure training, and no rehabbing. It’s been great,” Clark said. “It was a long offseason for me, five months, but it was pure training and no rehabbing, no worrying about anything so it was a great offseason.”
Now, the Bruins simply hope that the veteran can prove in camp that he can stay healthy and prove he’s capable of sticking in the NHL. Coach Claude Julien knows Clark well from when they were in the AHL, as Julien was coaching in Hamilton when Clark was playing in Saint John. He’s seen growth from Clark over the years, and likes what he’s seen from him in Boston thus far.
“He came into the NHL and he’s become a captain on the teams that he’s played with. … What I liked about Chris was that you knew he was going to play hard every night and to play against a guy like that is not an easy thing, but you learn to respect and like those kind of players,” Julien said. “I’ve always admired that from him and that’s what he’s shown here again. He’s a pretty determined individual, very focused, mentally strong. He’s a fun guy to be around. I think he’s already very well-respected by our players on our team because I think they’ve seen the same thing as I did when we played against him.
“I’m one of those guys that believes he’s going to push really hard and is going to make a real tough decision here. Certainly his experience, his leadership qualities are something that we can certainly look at. When you lose a guy like Recchi, sometimes you rely on guys in the dressing room to pick it up, but sometimes you also have the luxury of bringing somebody in who can help fill in that gap as well.”
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