This is a day or two late, but I've been thinking about Wendel Clark a lot today (no, it's not a typical obsession).
Last weekend, when Wendel's number went up in the ACC, the typical snickers could be heard from coast to coast--and beyond. "There go the Leafs again,” they said with disgust. “Embracing mediocrity. Celebrating failure.”
And, certainly Clark doesn’t have the numbers of a hall of famer. He was no where near the best player in the NHL at any point in his career and for a portion of his time he probably wasn’t even the best player in Toronto.
Here’s the think that the bashers were missing. The numbers don’t matter. Hell, the talent barely matters. The only thing that matters is that intangible thing that you can’t quite describe and don’t fully understand but makes you feel good when you think about it. Wendel had plenty of that.
For years Clark made the city of Toronto scream out in joy. He was from Saskatchewan, but he became a T.O. boy – he might as well have grown up in Parkdale, escaping poverty through his hockey stick. It just seems like he should have a Toronto back story.
Toronto hockey fans don’t need to be reminded that they have never cheered on the game’s best. They all know when the last Cup parade was. Certainly, the blue and white fans don’t need to be told that they shouldn’t care about Clark
They should care. And, they shouldn’t have to explain it to anyone why they do. If you are a Leafs fan you know why Clark’s number was honoured. You just do. And, that’s enough.
Certain players just fit in certain cities. And, if you don’t get that, you probably aren’t reading this blog because you’re not a sports fan.