MacArthur happy being in Toronto

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:43 PM ET

When the Atlanta Thrashers walked away from a deflated Clarke MacArthur at the arbitration table, Brian Burke, Dion Phaneuf and the Maple Leafs were there to put a chair under him.

The Thrashers said no to the arbitrator's decision that rewarded the 35-point scorer $2.4 million US and while the Leafs could only offer about half the money, they were giving the one-time Buffalo Sabre a chance to make their top six forwards and be re-united with world junior gold medal teammate Phaneuf.

"Dion phoned me to see what was going on," MacArthur said of his days in contract limbo. "He talked to me about Toronto and that obviously helped me make my decision. I had a couple of other teams right there too and I'm glad I made the decision to come here.

"This is obviously a big hockey atmosphere. I remember what it was like when Toronto would come into Buffalo. A lot of fans would come."

They'll have something more worth crossing the Peace Bridge for if the left winger from Lloydminster, Alta., can reach his 20-goal potential. Picked 74th overall in 2003, MacArthur paid his dues in the minors with back-to-back 21-goal seasons, but before reaching maturity in Buffalo was traded for draft picks last March.

"It's a good opportunity as long as I come in, work hard and do what I do best," MacArthur said, "moving the puck and getting shots at the net, trying to create as much offence as I can.

"We have a lot of speed, it's a young team, but we want to play smart, have an edge and make this a hard place to play in.

"They're trying to find an identity here. They have a really good group of guys, the right guys upstairs and it just takes a few years to mould things together."

MacArthur is just 5-foot-11, which doesn't really distinguish him from other smallish Leaf forwards at present.

"Everyone has to go to the body whether you are a scorer or not," he said. "We want an attitude here. I know about going into certain rinks where you know it's going to be a long night. Those are tough rinks to play in and it's hard to show up for all (82) games. That's what we want to make this place."


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