Clarke MacArthur is One Sharp Player

Rebuilding a team doesn’t have a set blueprint for organizations to follow. There are a variety of ways organizations attempt to transform themselves from chumps to champs. However none of these paths succeed without a big assist from lady luck.

Every team that takes that step has a player they took a flyer on become a revelation. For example, I guarantee you the Boston Bruins didn’t believe Dennis Seidenberg would be a top two defenseman on a Stanley Cup winning team when they acquire him from Florida for Byron Bitz and Craig Weller. The Toronto Maple Leafs received some of that good luck last season in the form of Clarke MacArthur.

MacArthur and Patrick Sharp

MacArthur (or MaGarthur as Joe Bowen calls him) has become that player for the Toronto Maple Leafs. A virtual afterthought heading into last season, the late summer free agent signing had a breakout season with a career high 62 points. The 26 year old forward, playing with his third organization, finally became the player many thought he could be coming out of junior. Cast off by both the Buffalo Sabres and the Atlanta Thrashers, MacArthur has found a home in Toronto. While there are many people (mostly Sabre fans) that claim MacArthur was a flash in the pan, I see things differently.

When the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2009-2010 Patrick Sharp was one of their most important players. The Hawks thought so highly of him that they shipped out other players (Ladd, Versteeg, Byfuglien) so they could afford to keep Sharp in the fold. However Sharp wasn’t a high draft pick, or big free agent signing. The Blackhawks acquired him and Eric Meloche for Matt Elllison and a 3rd round pick. At the time it seemed to be nothing more than an insignificant minor league deal. The other members of that trade have never amounted to anything, but in the 2007-2008 season Sharp at 26 years old (same as MacArthur) exploded with a 62 point (same as MacArthur) breakout season.

The fact that the point totals and ages are exactly the same is purely coincidental. What is similar between these two players is that they were both at a crossroads in their career, seeking an opportunity. When that opportunity knocked they both excelled.

Character 

Both MacArthur and Sharp are high character players who are well respected in the dressing room. This respect becomes obvious when you hear how their teammates speak about them in interviews. MacArthur’s strong talent, work ethic and drive to succeed will allow him to consistently perform at the rate he did last season. In one season MacArthur developed into a top six forward, became the player that Burke thought he acquired in Kris Versteeg (eventually making Versteeg expendable) and established himself as a core player with Burke’s Leafs. 

Just in case you think MacArthur did it all for the money and will fade away take a look at what he said to Tony Ambrosio yesterday: ” I have a lot I want to prove too. I want to show I can do it every year”. He then went on to say that he is motivated by people saying his season was a fluke and only about money. Personally, hearing how embarrassed MacArthur said he was last summer by the two way contract the New York Islanders offered him, convinced me of how he wants to prove to people that he is capable of being a strong player in this league. 

Last season Clarke MacArthur was a leader for the Leafs. If and when the Leafs become elite in this league #16 in blue and white will be just as valuable to the Leafs as Sharp is to the Hawks. In late August 2010 Brian Burke bought a 1.1 million dollar lottery ticket, it seems lady luck smiled upon him that day because he found himself a legitimate top six forward and core leader. 

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