Dicky, you get a chance to come to the second camp with this organization and you look back to the last eight years – you’ve only been with three professional organizations. What does that say about you in terms of your loyalty and of course you being rewarded for that?
Rich Clune: I think that I’ve been very fortunate to play this game at the professional level. I think I took it for granted a little bit early on, but now I’ve just really come to, every day that goes by, enjoy it even more. I’ve been with some amazing organizations. I was drafted by Dallas – very short – but LA, Nashville, and now Toronto. I guess people don’t mind me.
Now you get to contribute in a situation here last year. The opportunity to go to the rink – I’m talking about the Marlies – and knowing there’s a good chance you’re going to win that hockey game. You look around that room – young kids, you’re a veteran guy. You must have felt like you contributed a great deal, especially off the ice.
Clune: It was something that came into my life probably when I was ready for it and when I needed it. That responsibility and that leadership role, and being in a locker room where you knew you were surrounded by future NHL talent in William Nylander, Zach Hyman, the list goes on. Every day, practicing with those guys, I kind of had no choice but to improve. They kind of dragged me into the fold on the ice. I kind of dragged them in the gym. We all sort of fed off each other. They certainly sparked me. Anyway I can give back to them is great. I am very grateful that group was very welcoming to me.
You look at your dad, your mom and brothers and the sense of family that you come from – that’s moved over to what you see with this hockey club?
Clune: Yeah. I think the Maple Leafs are well on their way to re-establishing that culture and that team environment where everyone wants to go to war for each other and everyone wants each other to succeed. There is a lot of healthy competition. It’s going to be pretty exciting moving forward here in training camp this season with the Leafs and the Marlies. It’s nothing but good things to come.
You look around and see Brandon Prust, Matt Martin, yourself – guys all out of the same ilk. A sense of respect, but a sense of competition as well?
Clune: No question. Marty, Prusty and I, we’ve all battled over the years. It’s all good. I think they respect me and I respect them. It’s just pretty much three machines going up against each other. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun coming to the rink.
You’ve lined up beside Mitch Marner. We’ve talked about it at training camp in Halifax a year ago. Given what he was able to do two nights ago, the guy’s come a long way, hasn’t he?
Clune: Certainly. I didn’t see the game, but I was on his team all training camp. I watched him on the London Knights last year. He’s obviously a special player. He’s a player that this team is going to be expecting big things from. Any way I can help him… we sort of rally around him and make him feel good. It’s all good.
You still feel good thinking about Game 7 against Albany? Right place, right time. The moment.
Clune: Yeah, but now I’m thinking about Round 3 that didn’t go so well. Last year was an amazing year for myself and for the Marlies. I’m excited for a lot of these guys to take that next step up to the Maple Leafs. Life’s good.