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Clemmensen shaking off the rust with Marlies

by Lindsay Kramer

Scott Clemmensen has started 6-0 with a .909 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average for the Toronto Marlies.
He’s back in the AHL, but at least Toronto Marlies goalie Scott Clemmensen now gets to spend his down time doing things like shopping instead of sitting on the bench.

This is his life these days – during a recent free afternoon in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, the most alluring option to pass some minutes was a trip to a local electronics store.

“When I’m on the road, I don’t like to buy a whole lot,’’ he explained. “It’s just extra stuff to carry around. Maybe I’ll buy a movie for the (bus trip) home.’’

Mundane stuff, perhaps, but for the first time in a few seasons Clemmensen actually has reason to rest up off the ice, because he’s no longer a spectator around it.

Clemmensen, 30, has started 6-0 with a .909 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average for the Marlies. In his past two seasons with New Jersey, as a backup to Martin Brodeur, he played in 19 games overall. His 359 minutes with Toronto this season is more than he played in all of 2006-07 with the Devils. It was a good gig, absolutely. Clemmensen could have kept plugging away as New Jersey’s insurance policy and enjoying the NHL life.

He realized, though, that he was way too young to start feeling so comfortable. So he jumped from the only organization he had played for since turning pro in 2001-02 and started over by taking a free-agent deal with the Maple Leafs.

“It was time for me to take control of my career, which at that time had become a little stagnant,’’ Clemmensen said. “New Jersey, for me, was a Catch-22. Obviously, I worked hard to get to the NHL. You are going to learn a whole lot when you get there. You get to learn from Marty. The other side of that coin is you’re not going to play a whole lot. It feels good to be playing again, getting the rust off.’’

Clemmensen has gone from an afterthought with the Devils to a role model on the Marlies, for whom he’s sharing time with second-year pro Justin Pogge. The challenge for Clemmensen now is to stay as sharp mentally as he is physically.

His numbers tell him that he’s playing well in the AHL. His NHL experience reminds him that he can’t fall into the trap of doing just enough to succeed at his current level.

“Right now, I’m still at the point of telling my body what to do, instead of just reacting. Here in the American League, you don’t necessarily have to be perfect,’’ he said. “I know when I’m getting away with something in the American League that I would get beat on in the NHL. I want to be perfect, so to speak. Right now, things are going good. But I know I have another gear.’’

New role for Klemm -- Veteran defenseman Jon Klemm said he can look at the faces of his new Manchester teammates and see himself 15, 16, 17 years ago.

Any one of the Monarchs would give whatever they owned for the reverse to be true, to glance at Klemm and see a portion of what lies ahead for them.

In a move that seems both logical and incongruous, Klemm, 37, was named captain of the Monarchs last week. It’s obvious because Klemm knows a little something about success. It’s odd because of all the things that Klemm is these days, an AHL player would seem to be low on that list.

Klemm has played 751 career NHL games with the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche and Quebec Nordiques. He was a member of the 1996 and 2001 Avalanche Stanley Cup teams. He hasn’t played in the AHL since 1994-95, with Cornwall.

But Klemm said he knew that was a possibility again when he signed a two-way deal with Los Angeles in August.

“I wanted to keep playing. This is the route I’ve taken now,’’ Klemm said. “Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow. But when I signed the contract, we discussed what my situation would be. They said there’s a chance I could be playing here. When the coaches came to me and asked me about wearing the ‘C,’ I thought it was great. We have such a young team. They want me to help out. I’m kind of like a father figure.’’

Vigilantes on the loose -- It’s an easy, but obvious, shot to take, kind of like when you’re lining up an empty-net goal: When Milwaukee visits Manitoba for a pair of games this weekend, Vigilante justice will be in the air.

As in Admirals forward John Vigilante looking to square things with his older brother, Mike, a forward with the Moose.

The two met as foes for the first time at any level of competitive hockey when their teams squared off Nov. 2. John got two assists, but Manitoba won, 6-3. The next day, Mike e-mailed that score to John as a reminder.

“I think everyone in our hometown (of Dearborn, Mich.) knows the score of the game right now,’’ John said.

John and Mike took a few shifts against each other, and John claimed he beat Mike clean as a whistle on a faceoff.

“You don’t really think about it much, but he skates by and you see ‘Vigilante’ on the back,’’ John said. “I skated by him in warm-ups and stared him down a little bit. He just looked over and smiled. I was never really around him to hit him (during the game), but if he was there I would have gone for him.’’

Around the AHL -- Syracuse captain Zenon Konopka keeps catching the wrong kinds of breaks. He now has a broken bone in his left hand that will keep him out of action for at least six weeks. The start of his season was delayed by a broken bone in his right hand that required two off-season surgeries. … Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s shootout win over Norfolk on Nov. 3 was the Pens’ 16th regular-season victory in a row against the Admirals at Wachovia Arena. …The Pens have faced the Admirals in shootouts five times overall, and are 5-0 in those games. … The Rangers have loaned Hartford defenseman Darius Kasparaitis to SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Super League. … A pair of AHL players had happy birthdays last week. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Kurtis McLean celebrated his 27th birthday with a jaw-dropping goal against Toronto on Nov. 2, taking defenseman Derrick Walser one-on-one, flipping the puck up and over the defender’s stick about 10 feet out from the goal, then backhanding a shot in far side. And Manchester’s Matt Moulson earned his first NHL recall on Nov. 1 – his 24th birthday – then scored a goal in his debut with Los Angeles in a 5-2 win over San Jose on Nov. 2. … Worcester goalie Thomas Greiss will continue to wear his specially designed pink Sharks goalie mask for the entire month of November to highlight the Sharks’ involvement with breast cancer awareness. The mask, which is a mirror image of Greiss’ regular mask, is pink with swimming sharks and has a pink ribbon on the front. … River Rats left wing Ryan Bayda’s power-play goal at 15:50 of the third period Nov. 3 against Lowell helped the team snap an 0-for-32 power play drought. The streak spanned 58:07 of total power-play time, 344:10 of game action, and 16 straight periods without a power-play goal. … Albany’s 2-0 loss to Hershey on Nov. 2 was the team’s 12th straight home loss to the Bears. … With Rochester scoring a pair of 5-on-3 goals in both of its victories over the Griffins last week, seven of the 14 power-play goals scored by opponents this season have come with Grand Rapids down two men. … Hamilton center Maxim Lapierre tallied a pair of goals in 10 seconds against the Crunch on Nov. 2 to set a franchise record for the fastest two goals by one player. … San Antonio leads the AHL with six short-handed goals, one more than it scored all of last season. ... Portland played five straight overtime games before a 3-2 regulation loss to Providence on Nov. 3. … AHL referee Conrad Hache worked his final game on Nov. 4; he has been named the new director of officiating for the Ontario Hockey League.


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