LEAFS DAILY: Gardiner Back? + Why Clune Promotion is Solid


Somewhat big news this morning as the Leafs placed Marc Arcobello on waivers to clear room for Rich Clune on the roster, whom they signed to an NHL deal.

Clune has five points with the Marlies in 8 games so far this year, and the Leafs as a team are not very tough or physical, so this is an understandable move. I generally do not think the NHL needs enforcers anymore, but I also think that Clune can be an effective grinder that doesn’t need to fight.

Given who is running the Leafs, the choice to cut a skill player in favor of a guy seen mostly as an enforcer may be shocking, but I actually think it is the right move here. As much as I think the NHL media and fans over blow the need for character, it is an important concept for building a winning team. (To be clear, I think “Character” is a crappy and overused excuse for poor performance, and that it is difficult or even impossible to quantify, but that doesn’t mean having solid character players is ever a bad idea).

By signing Clune, the Leafs not only add a missing element to their team, they add a player who’s been through some of the worst the game can put you through and re-emerged back in the league and – judging by his play for the Marlies – better than ever. He’s perhaps the perfect leader for a young team and I don’t think he has to fight to be effective – if he can play hard in the corners and provide decent defense then dressing him is a no-lose scenario.

Not only does bringing him back the NHL make for one of the nicest stories or redemption we are likely to hear this season, but it shows other players in the organization that no matter what your preconceived role with the team is, if you play well you’ll get a chance.

Rich Clune
(Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

After hearing this news and reading up on Clune – who he is and how he plays – I am confident that the Leafs have added a player with great character to the dressing room and a player who plays a physical game to the lineup. I just hope that they didn’t bring him here to fight, because there is no need. He can be a good bottom-six player just by labeling guys and making smart plays. Whatever he adds to a rebuilding team because of who he is as a person is a bonus.

If you have two seconds, read this article that Clune himself wrote for the NHL Players Tribune. I wanna sound tough, so I’ll just say that I definitely had something in both my eyes by the time I was done reading it.  I don’t think anyone could read this and not cheer for the guy.

Smart move by the Leafs today, and let us hope that the useful Arcobello clears waivers.

Jake Gardiner?

Word is that both Jake Gardiner and Tyler Bozak could return as soon as Friday when the Leafs play the Rangers.

Currently 100% of the Leafs roster improves their possession numbers when Gardiner is on the ice, so he’ll be a welcome addition to the team. Bozak will help too, but the timing of his injury was actually nice because it forced the Leafs to play Nazem Kadri with James van Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov. They have been a great trio so far, so they will hopefully start together and let Bozak play out his remaining days as a Maple Leaf.

Morgan Rielly (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
Morgan Rielly (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

Tanner Completely Nails It:

When you write about the NHL as a hockey blogger, you have your fair share of deserved and undeserved criticism. Also, when you’re writing as much as I do, you’re going to make some regrettable observations and some brutal predictions. (Having once suggested Sam Gagner would score 70 points and lead the Coyotes to the Playoffs, I am speaking from experience here).

However, since I am always wrong (and I always hear about it!) allow me this one brief moment to brag about a time I absolutely nailed it. The day was January third, 2015. The Leafs were still in a Playoff spot and it was three days before they would fire Randy Carlye.

To be fair, however, I don’t have psychic powers and everything I said – though true – was pretty obvious to anyone willing to think about it.  Anyways, just thought I’d share that one time I was right!


Thanks for reading