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Silver linings if Senators doctors don’t clear Clarke MacArthur

Pittsburgh Penguins v Ottawa Senators - Game Six

OTTAWA, ON - MAY 23: Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators looks on during warmups prior to a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 23, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

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It’s difficult to recall a time when Clarke MacArthur didn’t stand out as a guy to cheer for, even among the many great people in the NHL.

Back in 2010, MacArthur dealt with the indignity of the Atlanta Thrashers (yes, the Thrashers) walking away from what was a $2.4 million arbitration verdict.

That turned out to be a mere footnote in his struggles, as MacArthur resurrected his career in a big way, only to deal with an honestly frightening slew of head injuries.

It made for some seriously conflicting emotions as sports fans and media types become increasingly aware of the risks of concussions (and how such issues only increase risks of additional concussions). On one hand, seeing MacArthur fight back to play for the Senators - and score the kind of goal that would happen in a Hollywood movie - was incredibly inspiring.

At the same time, there was the cringe-inducing concern that the next big hit could end his career, and maybe adversely affect his life after retirement.

Wednesday brought sad news for MacArthur, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that it’s not a sure thing that Senators doctors will clear the veteran winger to play.

McKenzie adds that Senators GM Pierre Dorion was “non-committal” when asked about MacArthur’s future.

Now, there’s no denying that this is sad news for MacArthur. He clearly worked hard to play again for Ottawa, and it would be crushing to experience another setback.

Still, his concussion issues stand out even in a physical sport where head injuries sometimes feel, unfortunately, like they’re the “nature of the beast.”

The silver lining would be that, with three years remaining on a contract that carries a $4.6 million cap hit, MacArthur can secure his financial future.

That’s not the absolute greatest situation for a Senators team that’s on a budget, but MacArthur possibly going to LTIR would save cap space if Ottawa changed course and decided to spend with the hopes of making another deep playoff run. There’s also the possibility that the Sens would convince a bottom-feeding team to take MacArthur’s LTIR cap hit in exchange for a roster-ready player (for the fee of, perhaps, a prospect and/or picks).

None of this erases the notion that this is a sad situation, and certainly not an ideal one.

It might just be the best move for all parties involved, particularly when considering MacArthur’s long-term health.