If there is a synonym for experience with the Toronto Marlies in 2021, it is Rich Clune.
The 33-year-old player was appointed team captain on March 1, after starting his sixth season for the AHL franchise in February.
Becoming the ninth to wear the C in Marlies’ history is a big challenge, but one the left winger was willing to take.
“It was very overwhelming,” said Clune, on a Zoom. “My decision to come here six years ago has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my career, and to be acknowledged as a captain this year is a great honour.”
Throughout the years, Clune’s performances have earned him not only the support from the fans, but also the respect from his teammates.
Since the 2015/16 season, in which he also played for the Maple Leafs in the NHL, the now captain has played 176 American Hockey League games, scoring a total of 20 goals, with 25 assists. With him in the squad, the franchise won the Calder Cup championship in 2018.
Following his appointment, the Marlies (6-6-0) had their first home games of the season, beating Manitoba and losing against Stockton twice each. Now against Laval they’ll seek to get back on track before going on tour.
“We didn’t play a very good game (against Stockton)”, said the captain. “Moving towards the weekend versus Laval we are going to be sharp and ready to go.”
Head coach Greg Moore also showed the same confidence regarding the team preparation towards the game on Friday night.
“The team is really confident and in a good place, knowing where we went wrong, and what we need to do,” said the coach. “The staff is just trying to facilitate their (the players) growth and their consistency, we’re confident that it’s going to come and we are going to see more of it this weekend.”
Moore added that he is very grateful to have Clune as the captain of his team due to everything he means to the franchise. He recognized the positive impact he has on everyone who has a relationship with the organization and how his hard work should be copied by the younger members of the roster.