This morning the Maple Leafs signed Toronto native Rich Clune to an NHL contract. He's already crossed the hall at the MasterCard Centre and will join the Maple Leafs in practice today. Spending last season in the AHL with the Milwaukee admirals, Clune had 6 goals and 11 assists in 62 games. Signed in an AHL deal over the summer, Clune has been a big boon to the Marlies. Scoring two goals and three assists so far this season in the eight games he's played, Clune has proven he's more than an enforcer in the AHL. From Jeff's Marlies Recap:
Rich Clune is hot. Clune has a stigma attached to him as an enforcer, but people forget that he's able to play the game too, especially at this level. He looked extremely mobile throughout the three games, and picked up multiple points on both Friday and Sunday. He also dropped the gloves with recent temporary (PTO) teammate Mark Fraser on Saturday.
Clune's NHL totals aren't record breaking: 7 goals, 11 assists in 120 games, while racking up 305 penalty minutes. Hopefully he can use the offensive role he had with the Marlies to play more, punch less, and move that to the NHL. Be more of a Tie Domi than a Colton Orr.
To make room for Clune, the Maple Leafs have placed forward Mark Arcobello on waivers, and if he passes he will report to the Toronto Marlies. Pointless in his seven games with the Maple Leafs so far this season, his presence will be a boon to the Toronto Marlies. His last stint in the AHL, 13/14 with the OKC Barons, he posted 28 points in 15 games. Adding him to a forward corps that includes Nylander, Brown, Kapanen, and Soshnikov brings more fire power and presence to an already dominant AHL club.
Unfortunately, fire power isn't the Marlies' issue. It's the Maple Leafs', scoring only 19 goals so far this season. This move isn't one to add more goals. Perhaps the front office sees this as a character, leadership issue. Clune opened up last season about his struggles with addiction, and this may be a reward for him, after proving himself to be good in the room among the kids on the Marlies.
If this season really isn't about winning the cup as some have said, if it's about gaining good picks, then it's not one where a redemption story of a local boy is going to hurt anything. A 1-5-2 record is a reach to come back from to lead the league, but "local boy makes good" is a story that can take over from the gloom, even for a little while.