TORONTO – His elbow had ballooned to the point that a baseball may as well have been attached to it.
Clarke MacArthur wasn't going to play that night in the second game of the regular season against Ottawa – he was serving the second of a two-game suspension – but this incident proved rather frightening anyway.
It was back in the very first preseason game against those same Senators that MacArthur suffered a very minor scratch to his left elbow. He thought little of it. Nearly three weeks later and something very strange happened.
The elbow blew up from infection.
Alarmed faces greeted MacArthur at the Air Canada Centre on the morning of October 8th. Attention was needed. The Leafs medical team quickly drained his elbow of the build-up from a rather large needle. With his upper arm left beating red, MacArthur was then sent to a nearby hospital where after further evaluation he was placed on an IV.
That night MacArthur returned to the ACC to meet with team doctors. He watched the Leafs 6-5 victory over the Senators from the trainers' room. "I was feeling awful," he said. Sick and on an IV the next two days, MacArthur returned to practice in Trenton, Ontario on Tuesday, eager to make his season debut against the Flames on Saturday.
He was certainly lucky to avoid any further complication. Had the infection not been detected and treated properly, surgery may have been required, potentially sidelining him for weeks.
A shiny, new set of upper-body equipment now sits in his stall, his shoulder pads from childhood sent packing. "It's obviously a little tender, but with the padding on I don't even feel it," said MacArthur of the elbow.
The infection was the second early hurdle for the 26-year-old to clear. In the second to last exhibition game in Detroit on September 30th, MacArthur brushed Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader with a hit to the head and earned a two-game regular season suspension.
He's more than thrilled to make his debut on Saturday.
"It's the worst missing the first few [games]," said MacArthur. "That's why you play all those preseason games and you get in shape and then you're off for two more weeks, like 'Come on'.
"I want to be out there and playing. Even with practicing, not practicing with your line, all that, it's just not right."
MacArthur kicked off last season in fine fashion, scoring five goals in the first four games, an early preview of what proved to be a career-year. Alongside Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, the Alberta native set career-highs with 21 goals, a team-leading 41 assists and 62 points.