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TORONTO – Standing comfortably by his dressing room stall, David Clarkson refuses to dodge questions about a goal drought thats lingered 10 games into the start of his Maple Leafs career. Ozzie Albies Jersey . Hes willing answer queries for as long as needed. "Ask whatever you want," he says. And he understands the questions. But he also knows why he was brought into the fold in Toronto and why Dave Nonis and company chose to pony up seven years at $36.75 million. "I wasnt brought here to score 50 goals," Clarskon said earnestly after practice on Monday morning. "I was brought here for that full game that I bring, competing every night." Nonis made that point clear on the day he signed the Mimico native last July. The considerable size and weight of the deal aside – not to mention the 30 goals he scored two seasons ago – internal expectations for the 29-year-old did not hinge strictly on offence but instead on the range of tools and experience he could contribute to a group prospectively on the rise. And though he hasnt scored, with bad luck in a mostly defensive role primarily to blame, Clarkson has generally played that part with the Leafs, admittedly still adjusting to the new confines of life in Toronto. "He hasnt really let it affect anything about him," James van Riemsdyk said of Clarksons goal drought during a conversation with the Leaf Report. "I think hes come in and filled his role; [hes] played hard, finished checks, stuck up for his teammates and had a couple tough bounces as far as goal-scoring [goes]..." Predictably pesky and a willing physical combatant, Clarkson has actually been at his best as a puck-controlling, forechecking burden deep in the offensive zone – something the group at large has struggled with until spurts recently. Effective in that regard mostly alongside Mason Raymond, Clarkson leads the team in puck possession (CORSI,) despite starting many of his shifts in the defensive zone. "Thats something Ive always brought," said Clarkson, who has three assists, including a pair in the past two games. "In my career, Ive always been known to be a guy that down low is hard to play against, thats always in the blue paint, winning battles down low, finishing checks and driving the other team crazy." An admitted adjustment early on, Clarkson has been employed in a primarily defensive role so far, matched up against opposing top lines more often than not. Hes held his own in such duties – on the ice for just four goals against. Never was his effectiveness in this capacity more pronounced than his second game of the year. Playing alongside Raymond and Dave Bolland, Clarkson helped keep Sidney Crosby off the scoresheet for just the second time all season (to that point.) "The whole game, I was trying to hit Sid or trying to hit Malkin every shift because, if those guys are a little bit hesitant that you might do something, all of sudden maybe theyre looking over their shoulder and not as effective," he said. "I always try to play that same way." A Cup finalist with the Devils in 2012, Clarksons veteran credentials have also held sway among his more youthful teammates – all but a handful are younger than his 29 years. Nearly toppling the veteran Bruins in the playoffs last May, the Leafs looked to Clarkson and Bolland for aid in the leadership department this past summer. "Hes one of those guys you can look at to be a constant out there," James Reimer told the Leaf Report. "Hes just a good leader and hes a good pro. And a young team, thats what a lot of the time we need. You need those people that you can look up to." Reimer points the manner in which Clarkson has handled the early string of misfires offensively. "Hes not getting rattled, not breaking his stick, not swearing up and down," said the 25-year-old netminder. "He just comes to work every day." Several factors have worked to hold Clarkson in check offensively, luck and role most prominently among them. A sign of his unluckiness to date: the Leafs boast an even-strength shooting percentage of a paltry 2.6 per cent when Clarksons been on the ice this season, lowest on the team (with a minimum of 10 games played.) The several opportunities he has had, including a jam play opposite Jhonas Enroth on Saturday and a squeaker through the five-hole of Cory Schneider a week earlier, have fallen just shy of crossing the line. In addition to bad luck, Clarksons role has also changed from where it left off with the Devils. A first unit power-play contributor in Jersey, he is, at best, a second unit option in Toronto – stuck behind the skillful likes of van Riemsdyk, Raymond, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri, and Tyler Bozak when healthy. Clarkson, who totaled 14 power-play goals and 24 power-play points the past two seasons, has averaged 1:50 per game on the man advantage thus far, down from the nightly 3:33 he garnered with the Devils last season. Not helping his cause offensively either is the limited amount of even-strength shifts hes started in the offensive zone – slightly above 17 per cent, lowest on the team – nor the amount hes shot the puck to date; just two per game, down considerably from the past two seasons. "We think that David Clarkson has got a lot to offer to our hockey club and hes had his fair share of chances," said coach Randy Carlyle. "Hes a little bit snake-bitten, but if he continues to go to the net the way hes been going and we continue to drive that middle lane and get pucks directed around him hell score some goals for us. We believe that." With career-highs of 30 goals and 46 points, the production is unlikely to ever match the annual $5.2 million pay grade, but rightly or wrongly, thats not why the Leafs signed Clarkson in the first place. "If David Clarkson doesnt score 30 goals in a Leaf uniform, but provides all the other things that we know hes going to provide were pretty comfortable were a better team," Nonis said on July 5. Clarkson says the early drought may have bothered him as a younger player, what with the now daily barrage of questions and pressure to contribute offensively, but with age, experience and a family, he appears neither frustrated nor agitated. He knows his poor luck is bound to change, also understanding the manner in which he can affect the game otherwise. "Theres so much that he brings to this team," Reimer said. “When he starts scoring, honestly itll just be a bonus." Satchel Paige Jersey . Williams withdrawal came less than 24 hours after losing in the final Auckland WTA tournament final. "I dont believe she has an injury," Hobart tournament director Mark Handley said. Jerry Royster Jersey . Wiggins, who had been seen as a contender for a podium finish in Paris, was one of about 20 riders caught near the back of the peloton with 38 kilometres to go in the 218-km flat stage from Le Mans to Chateauroux. http://www.custombravesjersey.com/custom-steve-avery-jersey-large-527z.html .com) - Former New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya is joining the Major League Baseball Players Association staff as a senior advisor to executive director Tony Clark.Michael van Gerwen denied Phil Taylor a 16th World Matchplay title on Sunday night, but what did we learn from our week in Blackpool? MVG romps to Matchplay glory Full report of Sundays final Blackpool is still Taylors best betTaylors hopes of ending his drab run without a trophy should remain centred around the World Matchplay, despite falling at the final hurdle on Sunday night. He has a stunning record at the tournament, with 15 titles since 1994 and just eight defeats in 101 matches in that time. Taylor admits MVG is his greatest ever opponent Blackpool is still the likeliest location for Taylor to end a major hoodoo that dates back to exactly two years ago, when he beat Van Gerwen in the 2014 Matchplay final. A lot has happened in those two years. The concern is that, even on his favourite patch under a format that he has historically dominated, he is still chasing Van Gerwens shadow. Will we ever see Taylor win another major?MVG a tough nut to crackYet another trophy tells us nothing we did not already know about Van Gerwens prodigious ability - he is on course to become darts greatest ever player and even Taylor acknowledged his brilliance. But we did witness something about the Dutchman that doesnt crop up too often. Our experts discuss Taylors mind-games Taylor, perhaps realising that merely duking it out at the dartboard wouldnt favour him, dipped into his vast reservoir of knowledge and forced the crowd to help. His frequent encouragement of the clap made famous by Iceland at Euro 2016 was a clear ploy to interrupt Van Gerwens concentration.The Dutchman didnt budge. Taylor wouldnt give in - and still his less experienced foe gave him short shrift. Van Gerwen not only outplayed his rival, he out-thought him too.Top four in a league of their ownThere can be little argument about the pecking order of the worlds top darts players at the moment. Rankings are unlikely to interest the players themselves, but the numbers are currently telling a story that cant be ignored. The winning dart as MVG seals the title Van Gerwen, Taylor, Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis are significantly clear from the rest of the field as the top quartet at the oche. Mark Wohlers Jersey. Their semi-final qualification in the Matchplay followed their appearance in the final four of the Premier League, while only Lewis missed the World Championship semi-finals.The likes of Peter Wright and James Wade might be able to defeat anyone on their best day, but consistently the top four form their own elite group. Van Gerwen cant be bullied Michael van Gerwen praised after World Matchplay triumph Yesterdays heroes always welcomeAn entertaining run by The Bronzed Adonis Steve Beaton was one of the highlights of the week in Blackpool, proving that theres nothing quite like a feel-good factor. Take a look at Steve Beatons walk on at the World Matchplay Beaton, the 1996 world champion, rolled back the years and forced Anderson into some very nervous moments during their quarter-final. Beaton, ultimately, was sent packing but he represented a reminder that, in the entertaining world of darts, champions from previous generations are always capable of flirting with a comeback.Big names are never safeThe Matchplay saw three established players crash out at the very first hurdle, proving that the standard of the worlds top 32 players is constantly improving. With luck like this, no wonder Klaasen bowed out... Wade, Raymond van Barneveld and Jelle Klaasen were surprisingly kicked through the exit door shortly after they had unpacked their bags at the seaside town. Mervyn King, Brendan Dolan and Beaton, respectively, were responsible for the upsets suggesting we should always keep an eye on players outside of the PDCs top ranks. Also See: MVG romps to Matchplay glory Van Gerwen cant be bullied How MVG beat Taylor... Sky Bets darts odds On Sky TV Features Get Sky Sports ' ' '


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