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'It was just time': Moose done with Clarke

Bobby Smith didn’t want to get into specifics about why he sent Garrett Clarke packing yesterday.

Bobby Smith didn’t want to get into specifics about why he sent Garrett Clarke packing yesterday.

“It was just time,” the Halifax Mooseheads majority owner and head coach said. “I don’t think there’s any merit in us belabouring it.”

Clarke, a rugged, hard-shooting defenceman who turns 18 tomorrow, has been kicked off the Mooseheads’ roster after a tumultuous season and a half with the club.

He was a healthy scratch on Saturday after being benched on Friday for an undisciplined penalty — a series of events that has repeated itself a number of times since Clarke arrived in a trade from the Lewiston Maineiacs in June 2009.

When asked if there was more to it than Clarke’s lack of on-ice discipline, Smith said, “Yeah.” But he refused to get any more specific, only saying that bad penalties were “part of it.”

“It’s not just an undisciplined penalty here or there,” Smith said. “If somebody else goes out and takes a couple of bad penalties next Friday, we’re not going to remove him from the roster.

“It was just something we think is best for both sides.”

Clarke, who was drafted sixth overall by Lewiston in 2008, is eligible for next June’s NHL draft.

He had 22 points and 165 penalty minutes in 45 games last season for the Herd and six points and a league-leading 53 penalty minutes in 18 games this season.

The Mooseheads will need to wait for the trade period from Dec. 19 to Jan. 6 to deal Clarke.
“Hopefully, he’ll have a good second half somewhere,” Smith said.

While waiting for a trade, Clarke could play junior A in the Maritime Junior Hockey League with the Amherst Ramblers or head south to the United States Hockey League.

Clarke did not return phone messages yesterday. His father, Tim Clarke, told Metro that Garrett “has been instructed (by his agent) ... to give no interviews at this time.”

His agent, Allain Roy, is in Europe and had not returned an email at press time.

D-men get opportunity with Herd
The Halifax Mooseheads will move ahead with seven defencemen after yesterday’s departure of Garrett Clarke.

The Mooseheads, who regularly scratched two healthy defencemen while Clarke was around, now have a more manageable situation that will benefit youngsters Trey Lewis and Jamie Bishop.

Lewis and Bishop, both 17, were the players most frequently sitting in the press box when the Mooseheads were healthy.

Majority owner and head coach Bobby Smith said Clarke’s top-four minutes and power-play time will be accounted for by committee. He said there are no plans to call up reinforcements from junior A.

“We’ll make it work,” he said.

Konrad Abeltshauser and Pascal Amyot are expected to man the points on the No. 1 power-play unit, while Steve Gillard, rookies Bishop and Simon Desmarais, and potentially a forward, will factor in on the second unit.

Bishop, who was drafted 19th overall in 2009, has been scratched for 11 of 19 games but had two assists in place of Clarke on Saturday.

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