GS: What’s the one perk about being the captain of an original six [NHL] team that we wouldn’t know?
WC: It’s probably the hugest honour because it’s the team in Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs and your peers allow you to be captain and you’re a part of that room. The good thing is you’re answering all the questions. The bad thing is you’re answering all the questions. You can’t take everything personally all the time like Dion Phaneuf, Toronto Maple Leaf’s current captain] is going through sometimes where he takes things personally. He doesn’t take it personal, but people think they’re picking on Dion, but they’re really not. The media and fans are going at it because he’s the captain. So they’re really picking on the team: “How come you’re not being good enough?” The captain sometimes takes that heat. Also when you’re winning, the captain gets raised to another level as well. So it’s a double-edged sword when you’re wearing a “C” on any of the original six.
GS: Do former captains call current captains and tell them that?
WC: No. You probably talk a lot without saying anything, that’s kinda what the hockey thing is. Nobody sits down and you have these heartfelt conversations. But there’s a lot of talk in general. That’s how guys learn about each other and how they handle different things. You kind of watch people.
GS: You never want to call him and say, “Listen, I love it when you throw those big checks but try not to be out of position after you finish the check?
WC: No. One thing you do as an ex-hockey player is that you don’t critique other ones unless you’re in the media side of it. Because you understand what they’re going through. Because when we played we all made mistakes and that was all part of it. As many good things happen, you’re going to make lots of bad things happen.
Wendel Clark’s interview with George airs on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 7 and 11:30 p.m. on CBC. Hockey fans will also want to tune into the show Thursday, January 9, 2014 when George interviews Stanley Cup winner and former Montreal Canadiens tough guy Chris Nilan.