Jun 21, 2013
Photo Credit: Sarah FuquaTweet
When Rich Clune was picked up off of waivers, fans assumed he was brought in for depth to replace Jordin Tootoo’s role as agitator. The simple truth was that Nashville needed his energy and physical play. While his ice time was assisted by the plethora of injuries that plagued the roster, his play on the ice wasn’t disappointing. Rich Clune earned his spot by doing the things few on the roster wanted to do, and he did most of it with a charismatic smile.
From Then to Now
Clune was placed on the scrapheap before the season started by the Kings, who experienced very little turnover from last year’s roster. A player who has battled addiction, not much was expected of him. A change of scenery did him well in his first full season, netting his first NHL goal in his seventh game for Nashville.
Beyond The Stats
Fans and critics alike can criticize Clune for plenty of things, but we learned over the season that the player affectionately known as “Dickie” by his teammates is an effective passer with some decent speed. For a team that plays a tight checking system and demanding responsibility at both ends, Clune thrived playing a role that was a gaping hole on the roster.
The game employed by Clune is a snug fit for Barry Trotz’s system and his physicality is an element many fans wished players like Nick Spaling and Matt Halischuk emulated. The cliche’ that is all too easy to use is that “Clune simply wants it more than the other guys”, which may or may not be true, but his effort in small doses masks the holes in his game. He’s a good grinder, and every team needs a few.
The Best of Clune
His performance in Dallas was nothing short of superb. First, you have this penalty shot
Then, Clune follows it up with this gem of an interview
But his best moment of the year may have happened off ice, sharing his story with ESPN’s Scott Burnside.
Clune’s contract runs out in the summer of 2014, so he has another year to prove himself even more worthy of an extension. His 4 goals and 5 assists were sorely needed on a team that has a terrible offensive output at times. Of course, any goal he chips in is found money largely due to his role on the team. Unlike the past enforcers and agitators that have graced the Predators’ lineup, Rich Clune is decent at just playing hockey. He’s fast enough to be in the right place at most times. Another season like this, and he’ll earn a longer stay in Music City.
FINAL GRADE: B+
If we’re giving him a grade based on expectations, Clune surpassed them and earned an A. If we’re going by actual results, he’s a respectable B-. We merge and we manage. Clune hit people, he fought, he skated well, he passed, and he didn’t cause more damage to his own team than he did the other. At times, these players have a tendency to cost their own squad due to terrible decision making. Clune found out where the line was a couple of times, but did overstep in nearly taking a suspension for his hit against Columbus. If one chalks that up as a rookie mistake, then his season is perfectly decent given the circumstances.