The esteemed 35-year-old Marlies captain and longtime boxer went to Fortis Fitness in Toronto with his fiancée, Isabel, to work out, just as he did several times a week this summer. Then he met his father to help him as he always takes care of him in his work as a general contractor.
“Not very flashy,” he joked.
However, Thursday wasn’t a day like any other for Clune. Instead, he ended his hockey career, which began in 2007, when he officially announced his retirement.
“I always tried to play as hard as I could so that when that moment came, I had no regrets,” said Cloone. the athlete. “And I’m really proud to be able to say that.”
The goals Klon scored when he woke up on Thursday, improving himself and helping others, will make the transition from his football career to what comes next natural. Clune will begin work as a member of the Maple Leafs development team on August 15th.
For the past few months, Clune has been contemplating the decision to retire. A conversation with Jason Spiza last summer, who also retired from the Leafs this summer to become special assistant to Leafs general manager Kyle Dupas, helped Clone at least in part to come to terms with his decision to retire. He encouraged Spezza Clune, who signed to a one-year AHL contract last season, to play the season by “leaving everything on the table.”
him too. Clown has appeared energetic all season, scoring four goals and 12 points, the most since his first season with the Marlies in 2015-16, while also leaning towards his role as captain and being a guiding voice for more and more young players.
Clone was a player who never escaped the physical aspect of the game. In the last game of his career on April 30, he came out strong, and fought against Belleville forward Scott Sabourin in the Senate.
When the end of this season came, Clooney said he physically felt as if he could return to professional hockey. But emotionally? A different story.
“I was assessing my emotional state and trying to see that if the possibility of not playing professional hockey were to arise, how would I respond? For the past two months, I haven’t lost sleep. It wasn’t keeping me up at night,” said Cloone.
Klon may have been surprised that he didn’t find himself “sad or depressed” at the idea of not playing anymore.
“And I think that’s an indication, isn’t it?” He said.
Slowly, all summer, which included a vacation to Hawaii when he proposed to Isabel, he made the decision to retire.
However, staying away from the game completely wasn’t an option for Klon, who lives in Toronto’s East End.
“Ultimately, with my love for Toronto and my love for Maple Leafs and Marlies, I didn’t want to go to continue playing in another city or country,” he said.
Around the same time, Clune was offered a role on the organization’s player development team, providing what Maple Leafs assistant general manager Ryan Hardy described as “invaluable support and guidance.” Clune’s career concluded with 139 NHL games played and 593 AHL games. Clone said participating in the 2018 Calder Marles Cup was one of the highlights of his career.
“But honestly, every day I came into the ring, I was trying to cherish every moment,” he said. “I met a lot of people along the way from every district.”
Clune’s move to the player development team is part of an ongoing effort by the Leafs to bring recently retired players into the organization, whether it’s Spezza or Assistant General Manager Hayley Wickenheiser, with whom Clune will work closely in his new role.
Clune has served as captain for Marlies for the past two seasons. His penchant for making himself available to younger players and having lengthy conversations became known at the Coca-Cola Coliseum.
Clune was able to share the experience he built during his long career. After being drafted in the third round in 2005 by the Dallas Stars, he made his professional debut at the end of the 2006-07 AHL season with the Iowa Stars, playing one game.
After spending the next two seasons in the AHL and ECHL which saw him trade with the Los Angeles Kings, Clune was to make his NHL debut on February 11, 2010, then make his first NHL fight two days later, against then-Colorado Avalanche winger Cody McLeod.
He spent most of his time with the Kings organization in the AHL, becoming one of the league’s most feared fighters, taking 253 penalty kicks in 56 games in 2011-12.
However, during this time Klon has struggled with well-documented alcohol and drug addiction, stating in 2018 that “from age 19 to 23, I took as much cocaine as possible.”
“I just tried to escape my mind,” he said in 2018.
When he was awarded concessions by the Nashville Predators in January 2013, he had the longest stints in the NHL, leading the Predators with a 166-minute penalty in 2013-14 despite playing only 58 games that season.
After being signed by the Leafs rebuilders prior to the 2015-16 season, Clune spent 15 games with the Leafs. In his first season at the Marlies in 2015-16, he didn’t keep his gloves on as much as 146 penalty minutes in 49 games. But from that moment on, the time he spent in the penalty area decreased.
When the AHL introduced a rule before the 2016-2017 season that would see players suspended for their 10th fight of the season, a rule intended to reduce fighting, Clune’s total hits were affected. From 2016-2017 to 2018-19, his average penalty minutes per season had fallen every season, and by the time he played his last game as Marley, his total penalty minutes had never again reached his heights When he came to the organization, or even earlier.
But it was a change that Clune did not escape from.
Some of the people closest to Clune, whether it was Marlis coach at the time Sheldon Cave or Clune’s agent, Rick Curran, helped “steer” his attention to dropping the gloves on to become more efficient at playing between the whistles instead.
There were times last season when Clune’s offensive instincts were more evident than in past seasons. While it can be difficult for older players to make changes to their game, this was a trap that Clune never wanted to fall into. He became fascinated with how different players approach the game and wanted to offer his own experience to any curious young player.
“Hockey is developing at a rapid pace,” said Cloone. Every day it changes. It is a different game than it was when you entered the scene. I’m fortunate to have been surrounded by people who helped me and allowed me to stay in the game and at the level I was doing.”
Being able to adapt to a changing game is a skill, and that’s part of what could make Clune a valuable piece for the Leafs development team.
But it shouldn’t be assumed that Clune’s role will be seen targeting the prospects of young Leafs and helping them understand how to become more physical players.
While Clune will already work with players in snowboard sessions as part of his new role, what could also benefit Leafs’ young prospects is his openness to mental illness and how to improve a player’s mental health.
Mental health was one of the focal points of the 2020 documentary about him, “Hello, my name is Dicky.”
And if he can help the prospects of the Young Leafs better understand mental illness, he may end up making them more experienced people and players.
“I was fortunate enough to have been trained by incredible coaches during my years. And so I have just been able to absorb a wealth of knowledge from everyone I have been around and I think in the near future I will just try to work as hard as I can and try to get rid of the
His goal, as always, is to continue to remain a “student” and learn more about the changing game of hockey and improve himself.
As it has always been.
“I think as the leaders improve, your organization and the players have the potential to improve,” Clun said. “So I just want to keep working on myself and then just be of service to anyone I have the privilege of working with.”
(Photo: Jonathan Tinka/Cal Sport Media via AP Images)