|Phil Kessel skates behind Clarke MacArthur during practice at the Mastercard Centre in Etobicoke on Saturday, September 18, 2010.(Veronica Henri/QMI AGENCY)
Clarke MacArthur’s fondness for all things Buffalo cuts much deeper than a taste for chicken wings and beef on weck.
A third-round pick of the Sabres in the 2003 entry draft, the Lloydminster, Alta. native scored 41 career goals for Buffalo before being dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers last spring.
Given his Sabres roots, MacArthur was excited to return to the HSBC Arena Saturday night, albeit in Maple Leafs blue-and-white, not Sabres blue-and-gold.
Signed by Toronto earlier this month, MacArthur made the trip down the QEW as part of the Leaf squad that was to face the Sabres in what will be the first 2010 pre-season game for Buffalo.
“When you spend four or five years with an organization like I did in Buffalo, you’ll always have memories,” MacArthur said during the Leafs morning skate Saturday at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke.
“It will be interesting. This will be (Buffalo’s) first exhibition game so they should come out with a lot of energy.”
Having been on the other side of The Battle of the Golden Horseshoe, MacArthur knows two things about the Leafs-Sabres rivalry:
1. The Leafs ALWAYS have problems at the HSBC Arena, where wins have been very scarce.
2. There always are thousands of Leaf fans who make the trip to Buffalo for the games.
“When I was in Buffalo, the lower bowl would always be full of Toronto jerseys whenever the Leafs came to town,” McArthur laughed.
“Maybe it didn’t always show on the scoreboard but we had some good games against Toronto, games where they would outshoot us.
“For me, I look at this as being a fresh start.”
Even if that means playing for the enemy now.