Rich Clune inspires Marlies teammates

Author: Kevin McGran,
Date: May 12, 2017

Rich Clune is the kind of player who wears his heart on his sleeve.

It’s one of the reasons his teammates love him so much. He’s an inspiration to them, even when he’s a healthy scratch.

“He’s a beauty,” says winger Kerby Reichel. “He cares so much. He’s happy every day. He’s always so nice to the young guys. He takes guys under his wing. If a guy is having a bad day, he’s always there to pick them up. He’s a really special person.

And when informed of what his teammates say about him, Clune chokes up. Doesn’t know what to say. Offers a hug to his questioner.

“I’m extremely humbled the guys think of me like that. I would do anything for them,” said Clune. “I’m extremely grateful every day I get to come to this rink.”

So when Clune not only plays, but scores, and the Marlies win, all is way beyond well at the Ricoh Coliseum.

“It’s been tough for him being out (as a healthy scratch). But he stepped in and did an unbelievable job. The boys couldn’t be happier for him,” said Rychel.

“It’s good to see him get rewarded,” said Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe.

It was Clune’s goal in Game 4 that sent the Marlies on their way to a 3-2 win over the Crunch, tying their best-of-seven Calder Cup playoff series at two games apiece. Game 5 is Saturday in Syracuse.

“Coming out of the stands, I guess you would say, I try to remain focused, remain positive, and as I grow a little bit older, I discovered that persistence is really anything: Keeping your head down, keeping your mouth shut, working hard,” said Clune. “To score a goal is huge. I’m not looking to lay on any unnecessary complications, but be myself out there.”

The 30-year-old Clune doesn’t play much due to AHL rules limiting the play of veterans (only five skaters can have played more than 260 professional games). He’s inserted more when his brawn and feistiness are needed.

“He’s been around for a long time and he knows we’re in a tough situation, and he in turn is in a tough situation with us,” said Keefe. “He’s been terrific. He makes our younger players accountable, and pushes them to be their best. He works with them every day. Encouraging, and staying on top of guys. Always knowing the temperature of the team, all those kinds of things.

“We like his emotion and his energy. We think he makes our guys feel better and play better in turn.”

The key for the Marlies is to take momentum built with wins in Games 3 and 4 onto the road for Game 5.

“The older guys and the coaches have done a good job keeping the bench calm and collected, and to not get too worked up,” said Clune. “The first two games in Syracuse didn’t go too well. I don’t think we felt too good about ourselves as a team.

“We got a lot of fan support and energy here at the Ricoh. We fed off that. We’ve rediscovered our confidence.”

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