Wendel, the Example
With the Canadiens-Bruins rivalry rebirth, one of the interesting storylines from this past weekend was whether or not Milan Lucic should have accepted Georges Laraque‘s invitation to drop the gloves. Some said yes, many said no, and a lot of the typical reasons were heard. My favorite might be that it’s not worth the trade off for those five penalty minutes, where Lucic would have missed about one shift, given his average ice time.
Part of Clark’s legacy was his willingness to take on anyone. Clark took on the top heavyweights of his time (which wasn’t that long ago), like Bob Probert and Marty McSorley. He took his lumps, and eventually returned them.
Lucic surprised everyone last season by earning a full-time spot with the Bruins. At 19 he scored 8 goals, had 19 assists and 89 PIMs, taking on a variety of opponents, including heavies Raitis Ivanans and Wade Brookbank.
Lucic is on pace for over 20 goals this season, and his style of play leads to comparisons of Cam Neely constantly in the media. The name of Neely, a Boston legend, is flattering, but there is a lot of pressure on the young Lucic to produce and continue playing rough.
Clark burst into the NHL in 1985-86 at 19-years old, scoring 34 goals that season. He followed-up with 37 goals as a 20-year old. The league was offense-happy in those years, but Clark did lead the Leafs in goals each year.
The first time Clark fought Probert was October of 1987, Clark was just about to turn 21. Probert, already on top of the fighting scene, was just a year older. Clark didn’t fare so well, but that wasn’t the point. He took on everyone. He made his own space, which he needed with that wrister he took. He then took on everyone again.
If Lucic is going to become a premier powerforward in the league, there’s no reason he can’t play like one of the best of the past 20 years.