The Toronto Marlies have re-signed 29-year-old forward Rich Clune to an American Hockey League contract.
The left winger became something of a fan favourite last season, with his all-action playing style, infectious attitude, entertaining interviews and penchant for extreme workout routines that he regularly posted videos and pictures of online.
Clune, a popular figure among his teammates, made an off-ice impact on the younger players on the Marlie roster, notably William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen, encouraging them to explore other fitness routines including kickboxing.
Clune says all the Marlies should be in the gym and getting bigger this summer or "Dicky Clune will be breathing down their neck"
— platinum seat ghosts (@3rdPeriodSuits) June 16, 2016
On the ice, the left winger proved he wasn’t the stereotypical one-dimensional enforcer that many pigeonholed him as. He began the season with a handful of games serving as Nylander’s body guard but proved he wasn’t totally inept in a checking role alongside his young Swedish linemate.
As it turned out, Clune had a career year offensively in the AHL with eight goals and 24 points in 49 AHL games, and had earned himself an NHL contract by end of the first month of the season. All told, he made 19 appearances with the big club.
Often playing alongside Frederik Gauthier and Nikita Soshnikov in the AHL, the trio proved a line that gave the Toronto Marlies bench energy, often put opponents on the backfoot, and could be relied on by Sheldon Keefe in some key situations.
A personal high for Clune was netting the series winner against Albany in an enthralling game seven encounter in Round 2 of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Given his full buy-in into his leadership role within a rebuilding organization’s youth movement and the ethos of Mike Babcock hockey, Clune’s re-signing was a shoe-in.
Clune is signed to an AHL contract, just as he was last summer. The Leafs just acquired Matt Martin to fill this same sort of role with the big club, but Clune could again be signed to a two-way NHL contract by the Maple Leafs if Mike Babcock and company see a need for more veteran sandpaper at some point during the season.
Rich Clune’s statement after re-signing:
— Rich Clune (@richclune) July 4, 2016