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Five questions with David Clarkson

Wednesday, 03.13.2013 / 3:20 PM ET / Features
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Five questions with David Clarkson
NHL.com will periodically be doing a series called "Five Questions With …," a Q&A with some of the key figures in the game today aimed to gain insight into their lives and careers.

This edition features New Jersey Devils forward David Clarkson:


NEWARK, N.J. -- David Clarkson has gone from an undrafted, unknown, unproven, 21-year-old free agent to a 30-goal scorer and one of the most important players on the New Jersey Devils.

He's become a voice of reason inside the Devils' dressing room and a go-to threat in all phases of the game on the ice. He's developed a close friendship with future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur, one that extends off the ice to their wives. Clarkson also has taken on an active role as a Devils' representative for the fast-growing Hockey in Newark program.

This season, Clarkson started out on fire with 10 goals in the first 14 games, a 34-goal pace in a 48-game season. He's cooled of late with no goals in the past 12 games, but he'll try to come out of his slumber in NBC Sports Network's Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Prudential Center.

Clarkson spoke to NHL.com after practice Tuesday about his goals, his slump, his rise to the NHL, his friendship with Brodeur, and the Flyers.

Here are Five Questions With … David Clarkson:

When you were younger and trying to prove yourself in the NHL, did you ever consider the fact that you could be a 30-goal scorer in this League, ever fathom something like that for yourself?

"I don't want to say, 'Yes, I knew I was going to get to that.' You always have goals in the beginning of the season and I think I was very fortunate to be given an opportunity by the coach [Peter DeBoer]. When you go out there you have to do it, but I was given a chance and playing with some pretty good players.

"But to answer the question, did I ever think I would be it, I have to say no. I don't think I was ever the one that said I was going to do this. I always have goals every year and last year I achieved higher than I thought. But you have to get better every summer to lean toward that."

This year you started out on fire, but you've gone cold since. Can you pinpoint why, and how do you go about changing that now?

"I think as a team we are not really scoring. I don't think we're playing bad, but we're just not getting those bounces or maybe those opportunities we were getting early in the season. So personally, [Wednesday night], I'm going to get back to shooting that puck, getting around that net, get back to doing those things. I don't think any of us are playing bad, but for me, it's about getting back into those areas and hopefully putting the puck in.

"I don't know if that is lacking; I'm still getting opportunities, but hockey is a game of ups and downs and I've played in the League long enough to just keep pushing forward. I have to keep doing what I'm doing, but hopefully start to get those bounces."

Let's go back to those years when you weren't drafted -- were you expecting to be drafted and got frustrated that you weren't, or was it that you just weren't expecting much at all so there was no reason to be frustrated?

"I was a late-round draft pick to the OHL and I was never drafted to the NHL, which I never expected to be. I always dreamed of that, but the longer it went on and not being signed, I didn't give up on the dream -- I always dreamed of playing here -- so I don't want to say I was disappointed. I was a young kid, I liked to fight, and not much bothered me back then.

"But the older I got and the more mature I got, and having a coach that believed in me, I started realizing that I could do this, I could maybe play in the AHL [American Hockey League]. The more opportunities I got, the more I pushed myself. You have to believe in yourself to be successful at this level.

"When your buddies are getting drafted and you're not, then I'm playing in my over-age year and I'm still not getting any offers, nothing, that was tough. But I was fortunate to have a family around me that is very supportive, people that told me never to give up, and I ended up here."

One thing that is interesting is, despite the 12-year difference in age, you and Martin Brodeur are very tight and your wives are very close as well. How did that relationship develop?

"You know what, he was someone that took care of me when I came in this locker room. It was him, John Madden, Colin White, Jamie Langenbrunner -- these veteran guys, I don't know, I didn't talk much and I just liked to fight, so there was something about that that they liked. They would invite me out to dinners, and I got close to Marty especially. He's somebody that has been there for me since I was young. We spend a lot of time together in the offseason as well. He's someone I have a ton of respect for. What he's done on the ice is great, but it doesn't mean much to me because of the person he is in this room, how he treats me and my family and everyone in this room. He's just really special."

Let's talk about the Flyers, particularly the rivalry -- since you've been involved in it is there one moment in the Devils-Flyers rivalry that sticks out as your favorite moment?

"It could be a fight or anything, but I don't know about a favorite time. What I do know is I love playing these guys. It's like playoff hockey. It's physical. There are scrums. It's like playing the Rangers. This is one of the most fun teams for me that we play against."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59