TORONTO - Let the David Clarkson era begin.
And not a moment too soon? Not quite.
When Clarkson finally becomes a Maple Leaf for real on Friday night in Columbus, his 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to take part in a meaningless brawl in a meaningless pre-season game over, he will join a club that carved seven wins out of the first three weeks of the regular season.
Just hope that he doesn’t bang his shin jumping on the Phil Kessel bandwagon.
Kessel, on the periphery for too much of nine games, found his stride in a big way on Tuesday night, recording his fourth National Hockey League career hat trick as the Leafs beat Randy Carlyle’s former team, the Anaheim Ducks, 4-2 at the Air Canada Centre.
Kessel caused a torrent of hats to hit the ice at 8:11 of the third period when he slammed a 2-on-1 pass from James van Riemsdyk behind Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller. The hat trick was Kessel’s fourth in the NHL and first since Oct. 8, 2011, against Ottawa.