David Clarkson spent his first day on Toronto ice alongside the player he used to idolize. But Wendel Clark said the Maple Leafs' newly signed 29-year-old forward already is a better player than he was.
"I haven't got that talent," Clark said Thursday, after past and present Toronto Maple Leafs worked with some youngsters at the team's hockey school.
"He brings all parts of the game. It's not a one-dimensional game. Whatever game you want to play, that's how he'll play it. If it's going to be a physical night, he's there. If it's part of putting the puck in the net, he's there. Dave can play every part of the game, no matter which way the game goes."
The Maple Leafs signed Clarkson, a free agent, to a seven-year, $36.75 million contract last week. To live up to the deal, he'll have to be a scoring threat while playing the kind of grinding, physical game he did with the New Jersey Devils.
In other words, play like Clark.
But the top pick in the 1985 NHL Draft thinks it's unfair to rely on Clarkson, who has one 30-goal season, to lead the offense.
"Dave will come out and play his style, especially at home," Clark said. "I think his style suits that coming in here because this isn't really a road building for a lot of teams with 10 hometown boys usually on every other team. It's good. It reminds me a little bit of the old days ... it's going to be a long night when you're playing against him."
Clark, who spent 12 seasons with the Maple Leafs, didn't even mind the "Wendel Clark-son" back page one Toronto newspaper used after the signing was announced.
"It's all good," Clark, 46, said. "Any time you can bring energy to the team, it's not just about scoring and everything. It takes all types of players, so when you can bring different personalities in and lead-by-example guys and bring energy to the building, that's the fun part."
Clarkson wore No. 23 for most of his time in New Jersey. He hasn't decided what number he'll wear in 2013-14, but he ruled out No. 17. Clark's old jersey is one of 10 listed as "honored numbers" by the Maple Leafs, who no longer retire uniform numbers.
"Couldn't do that. I couldn't live up to what he had done," Clarkson said. "To me, it was a childhood thing. But no, that's not in the equation."