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Clarke under microscope as off-season begins

Garrett Clarke is on the hot seat as the Halifax Mooseheads pack their bags for another long off-season.

Garrett Clarke is on the hot seat as the Halifax Mooseheads pack their bags for another long off-season.

The 17-year-old defenceman spent the season in and out of the doghouse of head coach and general manager Cam Russell, and his inability to stay consistently disciplined is a topic of front-office conversation in the aftermath of a last-place campaign.

“I sat down and had a chat with him (on Monday) and that’s something I’m going to have to talk to (owner) Bobby Smith about,” Russell said.

“The culture of our team is to have a team-first attitude … We’ll have to make a decision with Garrett. There’s a tremendous amount of skill and potential ... But the attitude has to be right, too.”

Clarke finished one penalty minute off the QMJHL lead with 165 minutes in the sin bin and collected six goals and 16 assists for 22 points in 45 games.

Russell benched Clarke for a couple of games late in the season and didn’t get the response he hoped for.

“In spurts, but there definitely has to be more progress than that,” Russell said.

“He has to understand, the way that he plays ... He’s a marked man. Anything borderline is going to put him in the penalty box.”

The Mooseheads have a number of veterans who will draw interest in trade talks this summer, including captain Tomas Knotek. Clarke might be the only youngster who could be moved, especially with some enticing defencemen available in the draft and the Mooseheads holding either the No. 1 or 2 overall pick. “I’m not going to say his future is up in the air,” Russell said. “I will say we’re in the process of evaluating our whole roster and trying to figure out where everybody fits.”

 
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