Friday, November 28, 2008

Six days later and still thinking of 17

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.

But yet…

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My 11-year old's jaw hit the floor when he saw the highlight package from last Saturday's ceremony. We've spent a lot of time on YouTube searching out Wendel clips since then. Wendel's appeal was visceral, but I didn't realize how much until I saw my son's reaction last week. I've always worn my love of the Leafs on my sleeve, but I've always tried to not ram it down my kids throats. One loves them, the other hates them. Nor have I tried to school them on the virtues of the holy trinity of Keon-Sittler-Clark. I wanted them to have their own heroes. But in one week, the Leaf lover has become a Wendel fanatic. You can't argue with a gut reaction.

As for the naysayers, p!ss off. We don't expect you to get it. It's a Leaf thing. Now go back to cheering for whomever's in first place.