OTTAWA - Clarke MacArthur's future with the Ottawa Senators — and perhaps even as a pro hockey player — is once again in doubt after the veteran forward failed his medical on the first day of training camp.
After missing much of the last two seasons due to concussion issues, MacArthur appeared to have turned a corner last spring when he returned in the final week of the regular season and played well during Ottawa's run to the Eastern Conference final.
But questions about his future lingered as he admitted to dealing with some discomfort in his neck.
There were few details available Thursday with general manager Pierre Dorion unable to confirm whether or not MacArthur had failed the test based on his past concussions.
"Right now we don’t know much, but he won’t be part of camp," he said. "He was disappointed, but at the same time he looked in great shape, he trained all summer. I don’t have much on this."
MacArthur worked hard to return last season, said Dorion.
"I think we have to think about the person first here," said Dorion. "I think we always have an obligation as an organization. Everything has come so quick that I really don’t have much more about the situation."
Dorion said he told MacArthur to go home and that the two would talk sometime soon.
"I think we’ve got to give it a bit of time," Dorion said. "I didn’t want to start peppering Clarke or the doctors about this because there’s nothing else that can be done."
Well-respected in the dressing room, MacArthur's absence is a blow, said Dorion.
"I know we’ve got some good players that can take some of his minutes and help us continue on the path that we were on from last year," he said.
The Senators already knew they would start the season without captain Erik Karlsson as he recovers from surgery to his foot for torn tendons. Derick Brassard also remains questionable for the season opener.
Brassard has been making significant progress in his recovery from a shoulder injury, but his return will be questionable until he’s able to take contact.
Despite the absence of the key veterans, Dorion remained optimistic about his team’s potential this season.
"I’ve always felt confident this was a playoff team," he said. "With the players we have and the depth we have I still think that we’re a playoff team."
Adversity is nothing new, according to defenceman Dion Phaneuf.
"The bottom line is there’s challenges every year," he said. "You’ve got to go with who you’ve got and you’ve got to find a way to play well with who you’ve got in your lineup. I like the depth that we have."
Dorion said he is interested to see how rookies Colin White and Thomas Chabot will fare in exhibition play, which gets underway Monday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.