The Ottawa Senators have been without Clarke MacArthur for over a year but the winger is eyeing a return to NHL game action soon. MacArthur has battled concussion injuries that have sidelined him since Oct. 14, 2015.
Missing the majority of last season, MacArthur was set to return at the beginning of the 2016-17 season. However, his return was cut short quickly by a hard hit from Patrick Sieloff during a training camp scrimmage. This hit caused another concussion, forcing MacArthur to go back on to injury reserve.
The Senators have been doing well without MacArthur in the lineup as they are three points behind the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division with three games in hand. They also recently defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in what can be described as one of the team’s most complete games of the season. However, there is no question that having a skilled and speedy veteran like MacArthur back in the lineup will be a huge asset for the Senators.
Dorion says he doesn’t want to put a date on Clarke MacArthur’s return and if he comes back it will be treated as a “bonus”. #Sens
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) January 4, 2017
Close to Return?
Speaking to the media last week, a confident and relaxed MacArthur hinted that he is closing in on his return:
“It looks like I’ll be back soon,” MacArthur told the media after practice on Tuesday. “I have to do an exam, other than that, starting to feel a lot better and getting more jump everyday, hopefully sooner than later. It’s there now, I can see it, I can see the finish and that’s a big thing for me.”
Asked when he expects to do his concussion test, MacArthur said it would be done shortly.
“I am going to try and do it (the test) this week, I am not sure how long it takes to get the results but it shouldn’t be too far after that,” he said. “I am going to keep doing the reps, they (the coaches) are working me into the lines, switching guys out and giving them breaks. I need to get the reps and get going every 30 seconds. Today was the best day I’ve had.”
Watching practice, it was evident that he had jump and speed when taking rushes. Speaking to the media afterwards, MacArthur noted he is feeling a lot better in practice.
“It (practice) is great, I am finally starting to feel alive again and when you’re getting in the reps and you’re right on the edge, getting close (to return) you start to feel a little blood flowing again,” MacArthur said.
Prior to September’s injury in training camp, MacArthur was expected to skate on a line with Bobby Ryan and Derick Brassard. When he does return, it may be wise to ease him back into the lineup in terms of minutes. Looking at the depth chart and player production, it appears that Curtis Lazar may be the odd man out when MacArthur returns.
Lazar has zero points in 20 games played so far this season.
When asked by media who he would like to play with, a lighthearted MacArthur said:
“Stoney (referring to Mark Stone), get Karl (Erik Karlsson) up on my wing, but wherever I get in I am just going to put my platoon helmet on,” MacArthur said with a smile.
Once he is medically cleared to play and upon returning to the Senators lineup, MacArthur will be a welcomed addition. He is a role model who brings a veteran presence to the locker room, and is someone younger players like Ryan Dzingel can learn from. His veteran leadership and ability to put up points will be important as the Senators have their sights on a playoff berth this season.