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Scott Cruickshank, Calgary Herald
Published: Monday, October 30, 2006

Chris Clark always brings an unwavering brand of consistency to his goal production.

Ten every winter. Fast start, slow start, doesn't matter. Four straight campaigns -- including his stint in Norway during the 2004-05 lockout -- generated 10 tallies apiece.

So that's why Clark's output for the Washington Capitals last season had a look-twice quality to it -- 20 goals. Really?

"Oh, I had to make up for the previous years," Clark, chuckling, said Sunday afternoon as the Caps team bus was slaloming from Edmonton to Calgary. "I guess it all evens up."

Fret not, Clark hasn't gone fancy-pants.

The former member of the Calgary Flames still patrols the right wing with vigour, his penalty minutes still will crack triple digits. Heck, he still wears No. 17.

"Basically, I don't want to get away from anything that I'd normally do," said Clark. "A lot of penalty killing. A little time on the power play. Getting pucks. Getting into the corners. Trying to be first in the corners. All that.

"Still doing all the defensive stuff."

Still humble.

But this season, Clark is off and running, again -- nine points in 10 games.

And he's doing it with a 'C' on his chest. In his senior year at Clarkson (N.Y.) University, he was team captain. And he wore an 'A' for Jim Playfair's club in Saint John, N.B.

"But it was never one of my goals (in the NHL) because I never thought it would be attainable," said the likable 30-year-old, who operates with Dainius Zubrus and Alex Ovechkin.

"Being one of the older guys, it fit somehow."

While Clark learned from all the Flames captains -- Jarome Iginla, Craig Conroy, Bob Boughner -- he singled out Dave Lowry as being the most influential. "Pie knew everything," said Clark. "If ever I had any questions, I came to him. You could ask him anything. But I had a lot of good role models in Calgary."

When the rugged winger had been dispatched to Washington in August 2005 -- the Caps surrendered a measly sixth-round pick -- it hadn't exactly been a magical day.

"Going from a Stanley Cup finalist to one of the lower-point-getting teams wasn't a great thing," Clark said. "When you get traded, sometimes it's a great move, sometimes it doesn't work out. I was very lucky. It's worked out great."

Because, lo and behold, things are far from bleak in Cap land.

They've got one of the league's best players, they've got a raw but ready supporting cast.

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