David Clarkson (missed two shifts in a game during the 2010-11 season due to a broken skate blade): David Clarkson's skate simply fell off his skate, forcing him out of the game for a few moments. When he returned, it was business as usual: take the puck behind the net and fail miserably while trying to score a wraparound goal.
Ilya Kovalchuk (healthy scratch for one game in the 2010-11 season): After Devils' coach John MacLean felt the best way to get Kovalchuk scoring was to bench him, Ilya responded with a goal at Madison Square Garden. To scrap MacLean's brilliance, Kovy went 7 games before he scored again, and only had one goal in the first 16 games after being scratched.
Jamie Langenbrunner (healthy scratch for
Andrew Peters (scratched for 3 games in the 2009-10 season): After losing a spot in the Devils' lineup to a player who actually had enough talent to try out for the Mighty Ducks' team for the movie, Peters returned by fighting an Oiler, and then making chicken-like gestures to the Oiler. Luckily for the Devils, he failed to tie his jersey down, and was thrown out of the game.
Martin Brodeur (missed 4 games during the 2006-07 season due to "rest"): Scott Clemmensen actually played 6 times during the 2006-07 season, including 4 starts. It didn't matter though, even though he missed an entire 4 games, Brodeur still led the NHL in wins, saves, shutouts and won the Vezina trophy.
Colin White (missed two months in the 2007-08 season): After returning from his eye injury, White recorded six hits in a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh during his first game back. His vision was blurry at best, so you'll believe me when I say he really didn't mean to hit anyone that night, including a fan in the parking lot after the game.
Patrik Elias (missed 44 games in the 2005-06 season): Patrik Elias had 8 points in his first four games back in the Devils' lineup upon his return from his illness. Geez, with a recovery that fast, you'd think it was in the food he ate or something...
Paul Martin (missed 50 games in the 2009-10 season): Returned for Retro night against the Penguins. Prior to the game, Martin made a deal with Ray Shero agreeing that if the Penguins conveniently turned a puck over in the neutral zone and had Marc-Andre Fleury allow a bad goal, Martin would sign with Pittsburgh that off-season. In a crazy turn of events, that exact senario played out.
Martin Brodeur (missed 55 games in the 2008-09 season): Brodeur took 55 games off during the 2008-09 season, but in fact, it was he that dressed up as Scott Clemmensen and won 25 games in his own absence. What he did was get Clemmesen a contract with the Florida Panthers, only to have a goals against average over 4.50 during the first half of the 2009-10 season.
Vladimir Malakhov, Richard Matvichuk and Alexander Mogilny (mysteriously disappeared after the 2005-06 season): I guess we'll never know what these players would have done in returns to the Devils. What I do know is that these players were buried in the minors at one point or another to "manage the salary cap." Hmm, Russians and salary cap problems...why does that seem like a familiar story?
Brendan Shanahan (missed 1,328 games between 1991 and 2008): When Shanahan returned to the Devils' lineup after a 17-year absence, he made his presence known right away, scoring a power play goal in Nashville. I wonder what he did during those 17 years...
Bryce Salvador (missed entire 2010-11 season due to concussion): He hasn't returned yet, but when he does, I doubt he'll be able to do what he did against Ottawa on December 18th, 2009 (skip to 4:45):