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Five questions with David Clarkson

Wednesday, 03.13.2013 / 3:20 PM / 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 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 41 10 16 -2 26
J. Jagr 44 9 16 -11 25
M. Cammalleri 36 15 6 -3 21
P. Elias 38 6 15 -13 21
M. Zidlicky 48 4 16 -8 20
M. Ryder 42 6 12 -2 18
T. Zajac 40 8 8 -6 16
S. Gomez 24 4 12 -6 16
S. Bernier 33 6 7 1 13
M. Havlat 30 5 8 -9 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 17 19 4 .921 2.37
K. Kinkaid 1 3 3 .913 2.54