New York Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck has battled injuries of all kinds in recent years, but he doesn't believe he is any worse for wear because of it. The NHL's all-time hits leader plays a relentless physical style that takes a toll on his opponents and himself, as evident by the games missed over the last two seasons.
Clutterbuck played in just 49 games this past season, scoring six goals and six assists as the 35-year-old mainstay on the Islanders' "Identity Line" missed 20 games with an upper-body injury and had three different stints on the injured list after being shut down last March to have season-ending shoulder surgery. Despite the missed time, Clutterbuck doesn't believe the injuries have had a lasting impact on his ability to perform as he always has throughout his NHL career.
"I don't feel any different," said Clutterbuck last Monday when speaking with the media. "There's been some periods of times with injuries, and those have been difficult to deal with, but it doesn't really change the way I feel...or how I can be effective."
Clutterbuck signed a two-year contract extension last March. His contract is aligned with fellow linemate Matt Martin as both will be unrestricted free agents (UFAs) at the end of next season. Clutterbuck said he hasn't thought about what will happen after next season and that it doesn't serve any purpose to do so. He'll take it year-by-year just as he did two seasons ago when he was in the same situation.
Given the wear and tear on Clutterbuck's body, some fans have wondered if he would be mulling retirement, but on clean out day last Monday, he made it clear that although he has battled injuries, he physically feels the same and is looking forward to an off-season without any rehab.
"I'm pretty sure I'll be the first to know when the time for being effective has passed me," added Clutterbuck. "I'll be well aware of that before you [the media]."