Marlies Sign Richard Clune

The Marlies signed five on Friday and continued to bolster their depth today, signing long-time hockey pro Richard Clune to an AHL contract.

At 28 years old, Clune has really been around the block in the pro hockey world.  He’s made stops in the ECHL, AHL, and NHL since 2007, playing for Iowa, Idaho, Manchester, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Milwaukee.

Most recently, Clune had a career renaissance of sorts in the Nashville Predators organization, playing the entire 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons up with the big club for a combined 105 NHL games (out of the 120 that he’s played total).  What was really great about this, though, was that he overcame a long string of off-the-field problems – namely alcohol abuse – to do so.

He played just 1 NHL game last season though, and spent the rest of his year with  Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee where he had 17 points in 62 regular season games.

Clune is a great story because he’s dealt with a lot of problems in his life but has worked hard to overcome them and is now opening up about his past in an attempt to inspire others who might be dealing with similar struggles.  He’s known as a real grinder on the ice, going to the dirty areas to help out defensively and, every once and awhile, chip in offensively.  He can also fight, is considered a leader, and has a Sean Avery-styled peskiness geared towards his opponents.

On a larger level, Clune figures to be a regular in the Marlies bottom-six this season and serves to enhance the depth of what is already a very deep minor league team.

The list of potential Marlies forwards now includes: William Nylander, Byron Froese, Connor Brown, Matt Frattin, Josh Leivo, Brendan Leipsic, Sam Carrick, Kasperi Kapanen, Zach Hyman, Ryan Rupert, Nikita Soshnikov, Casey Bailey, Frederik Gauthier, Carter Verhaeghe, Matt Rupert, Brett Findlay, Christopher Clapperton, Denver Manderson, Jack Rodewald, and now Clune.  This just furthers the likelihood that some of the players considered to be relatively big prospects within the Leafs organization (e.g. Gauthier and Verhaeghe) will be getting significant playing time in the ECHL (rather than the AHL) and that the Orlando Solar Bears will factor much more into the equation this season.

The Leafs might surprise some people and compete for a playoff spot this season.  Or they might be really bad.  But based on Toronto’s AHL depth, as further bolstered by the signing of Clune, the Marlies figure to be a very good team this year – and a fun one to watch at that.

    • SEER

      LOL! I saw him a lot in the Admirals, but I have to be honest and say that this move puzzles me a bit… He’s a good back/call-up for the Leafs for injuries, though.., if people like Sill & Robidas aren’t going to be coming back.. Orr & McLaren are as good as gone, so I guess we need a few tough guys in the system..

      I guess he will be taking Smith’s place, but I also have a feeling that some of these newbies will be shipped out in a package deal, before season start… Possibly.., they are stocking up with players to trade for picks, with Vegas..?

      Make sure we get some tickets for Shania, while your at it, guys.. LOL!

  • SEER

    Makes sense, Marlies will not have anyone over the age of 25, (If Frattin and Brennan will play for Leafs), yes leadership is a word thrown out a lot, but these guys are young minds who could use a guy like Clune who’s been through a lot

  • Gary Empey

    I like this signing. He is a tough guy but not a goon. Defensively responsible,good skater. Plays a regular shift. With all the young guys we have on the Marlies I expect other teams will try to intimidate them. Still he will have to work his ass off to make the team.

  • Gary Empey

    Sometimes we forget these are all just people who happen to be professional athletes as well. If anything you bring in a guy that is local to Toronto and is in every sense of the word a “character” player.

    He may not be the best guy on the ice but off the ice is just as important. He can tell these guys the pressures he had and the toll it took on him mentally and physically. How poor decisions nearly cost him his life – both as Rich Clune the son of someone and Rich Clune the professional athlete.

    Even if Rich Clune isn’t helping the team on the ice he can help the young men off it with any difficulties/pressure they may feel. He can be a peer to talk to that isn’t a coach or “boss” they may feel less inclined to go to for any help.