David Clarkson finds life after NHL as high school hockey coach

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COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 16: <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/3741/" data-ylk="slk:David Clarkson">David Clarkson</a> #23 of the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/cob/" data-ylk="slk:Columbus Blue Jackets">Columbus Blue Jackets</a> lines up for a face-off during the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 16, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 16: David Clarkson #23 of the Columbus Blue Jackets lines up for a face-off during the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 16, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

David Clarkson hasn’t played an NHL game for the Columbus Blue Jackets in over a year due to a chronic back issue, and the chances he returns to the ice are slim after he failed a pre-season physical in September.

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But it seems the 32-year-old Clarkson has found a life after the NHL as a high school hockey coach.

After working as a volunteer assistant coach this past season at Upper Arlington High School, which is not far from Nationwide Arena, Clarkson is taking on the head coaching job for next season pending school board approval.

“Those kids have helped me a lot more than they know,” Clarkson told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch in February. “It makes me feel like I’m able to do something, able to give something back.”

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Clarkson, whose contract runs through the end of the 2019-20 season, declined to talk about the new gig but did say that his back issues remain the same. After the Feb. 2015 trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs, he’s only suited up for 26 games over parts of two seasons with the Blue Jackets. His playing days may likely be behind him and he’s now paying it forward.

“The thing we really like is he’s so interested in working with young hockey players,” UA athletic director Tony Pusateri told ThisWeekSports.com. “I can’t tell you how many times he told us how his coaches made hockey fun and important for him (and he said) ‘I want to pass that on to the kids.’

“He’s on a mission to give back to hockey. I think that’s what I like the best.”

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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