Apparently some guy in Montreal is having his jersey retired today and that's all well and good. Every fanbase deserves to have their heroes. Both in the spotlight tonight are lucky to have had their respective honourees. One was lucky enough to live up to his potential while the other will always have questions of "what if?" attached to his name by outsiders and fans alike. Searching through the vault at YouTube I came across this video recap of Wendel's first year in the NHL. It is literally heartbreaking to hear the words "future NHL great Wendel Clark" while knowing that injuries and a beloved style of play would slow him down.
At the end of the day, however, the questions of "what if?" or "where does he stack up?" don't matter because the only question that needs answering, "Why do you love Wendel Clark?", has so many wonderful replies. Read through Down Goes Brown's countdown of the Top 17 Wendel Clark Moments or 1967ers' three part look at Young Wendel, Captain Wendel, and The Return of Wendel because they present the view of people that we old enough to recognize the fleeting nature of what they were seeing. Wendel was many things - a sniper with a feared wristshot, a fearless fighter, a dedicated teammate, the ideal hockey player, a giving member of the community, and a part of Canada - but what he represented to everyone can be distilled to four little words: He was all heart.
Down Goes Brown, as he has throughout the series that probably led you here, recaps his top moment beautifully. You can probably guess from the description but run, do not walk, over to his post to thank him for putting together such an amazing series.
If you saw the game, you don't need me to tell you what it was like. You remember. You'll always remember that moment.
The moment that Wendel Clark looked across the ice at a fallen teammate and did exactly what a captain should do. The moment that Wendel Clark dropped the gloves with a giant and taught him a lesson about respecting the Maple Leaf. The moment that somehow managed to perfectly capture everything that Wendel Clark meant to a team, a city, and generation of fans.
The top Wendel Clark moment of all-time.
It's a no brainer but today is Wendel Clark Day. Archimedies kicked things off early (just like Wendel would do in a game) with his Memories of Wendel Clark. My greatest memory is that I worked on my wrist shot tirelessly in practice because I wanted to rifle shots like Clark. Nothing made me smile more than knowing that I had picked the top corner like Wendel did that night in LA. Tonight, I'll be sporting my early Christmas present, snapping pictures and taking videos like a tourist, and blinking like crazy. Hopefully, the current batch of Leafs will recognize what it means to not only wear the Maple Leaf but to be truly loved in this city. If tonight's ceremony can ingrain that in them then Wendel will have led the team one last time.
Feel free to share your memories in the comments, fanposts or fanshots. If you have any links to any stories or posts that deserve sharing post them in the comments and I'll add them to the list:
- NHL.com Feature
- The Making of "All Heart"
- A Million Words on Wendel
- Wendel Clark Facts
- Wendel FanShots
- Wendel Clark on YouTube
- Wendel Clark: A Superhero to Leafs Nation
- The Man, The Myth, The Mustache
- Wendel: I'm Speechless
- DGB's Honourable Mentions
- Two Paths To The Rafters
- "They liked my style of play."
- You best believe I'll be sporting this tonight
- King of Leafs Nation
- Doug Gilmour wears Wendel Clark PJs
Courtesy of the official site:
Wendel is drafted first overall
Wendel and Ulmer Part I: Harold Ballard was frigging crazy
Wendel and Ulmer Part II: King Clancy, wearing 17, Chris Broadhurst is a hero, and what playing in Toronto meant to Wendel
Wendel and Ulmer Part III: Pat Burns, life after the game, and why he had to retire
Wendel and Ulmer Part IV: Reminiscing