Wealthy Clune may have departed professional hockey on a excessive, having crushed private demons, elevating the Calder Cup in his hometown, not a 30-something in a minor league room with some children barely out of their teenagers.
A rising ardour for performing and film-making would appear to have far more attract than returning to the Marlies, hard-pressed to repeat as AHL champions.
However Clune determined lengthy earlier than his second with the Calder that his distinctive hockey journey nonetheless had many miles to go, no less than two extra seasons underneath his new AHL deal. That’s what introduced him again to the Maple Leafs apply rink within the late August warmth, toiling with the NHL group, however dressing within the down market district with these whose excessive helmet numbers give a touch to their odds of creating this yr’s massive membership.
“It didn’t cross my thoughts to exit like that,” Clune mentioned of the June celebration. “My conferences with (Marlie coach) Sheldon Keefe and (Leafs basic supervisor) Kyle Dubas went very well. They expressed curiosity in having me again. These (actual particulars) will keep behind closed doorways, however I’ll say they had been impressed with my work ethic and what I deliver to the staff.”
Clune doesn’t really feel previous, in reality he’s nonetheless in re-birth, after a well-documented battle with alcohol and substance abuse that landed him within the emergency ward in Could 2010 and a second stint in rehab. He got here again to the NHL with the Nashville Predators and when he wanted a break to maintain his profession going, Mike Babcock pushed the Leafs to take him in 2015.
Babcock, a robust advocate of psychological well being consciousness, thought Clune had earned that likelihood the onerous method and noticed him as a optimistic function mannequin for the farmhands.
Although he doesn’t play as a lot amid so many prospects proliferating the Leafs’ system, he’s by no means removed from the youthful crew, on the gymnasium, within the seats or on the bus, sharing his story about taking nothing as a right within the sport. Basic rock coming from the burden room often means he’s overruled others for management of the music.
“There’s a massive notion that I’m a army drill sergeant,” Clune mentioned with amusing. “My philosophy has all the time been ‘Do your factor, be your self’ and if individuals select to comply with my lead, then so be it.
“I’m excited for lots of younger guys with the Marlies to come back into camp and push for jobs with the Leafs. The paradox is I need to do nicely, however a giant a part of my function is to see the success of my teammates and finally have them go me.
“Being of service to others is a giant a part of my life, a giant a part of my sobriety.”
Nobody will simply give a ahead place to somebody who’ll be 32 in spring.
“I’m developing on my 12th yr as a professional,” Clune famous. “Since I obtained sober, I’ve been within the high three conditioned gamers of any NHL camp I’ve been to: Nashville, L.A. and Toronto. I’ve completed each body-check since I used to be 10 years previous in lacrosse and in 12 years enjoying hockey, giving hits, getting hit and a number of combating early in my profession. That also occurs time to time.
“I really feel wonderful, knock on wooden, very grateful for my well being. I actually simply do issues I can management, my weight loss plan, sleep, life-style, coaching. It’s paid off, I don’t see myself slowing down.”
That features off the ice with pursuits within the arts. Youthful brothers Matt and Ben, who idolized Wealthy earlier than his fall and later helped him to redemption, are screenwriters. Matt, now based mostly in L.A., wrote a shifting first-person piece on the household serving to Wealthy get sorted for The Athletic in 2017.
Rising up, the brothers would typically talk about motion pictures in addition to their mutual love of sports activities, and their ‘actual life’ jobs finally rubbed off on Wealthy. He started taking performing courses just a few years in the past, appeared in a wide range of their movies, and was the principal in a brief about psychological well being.
“Two (of their initiatives) had been extra to my tastes, kind of the quirky Wes Anderson-Quentin Tarantino kind,” Wealthy mentioned. “They’ve that consciousness of humour; looking for the comedy within the drama and the drama within the comedy. Every time I am going to a film or a play, I need to chortle, be scared and cry on the identical time.”
For now, there’s a title to defend (“get pleasure from it, however flip the web page. It’s over with”) and when enjoying is completed, maybe a task teaching the Marlies.
“Hockey is the real love of mine,” Clune mentioned. “I don’t see myself ever not being concerned in some extent. I’d like to work with gamers one-on-one. I’d positively like to remain, go on what I’ve discovered and proceed to continue to learn myself. Early on, it was ‘what can I get out of this?’ However over time, you get the angle of what it’s wish to be a part of a staff.
“I may discover myself making movies, too. Ideally do each.”