Tuesday 15 November 2016

Bleeding Blue: Giving My All for the Game - Wendel Clark and Jim Lang

Bleeding Blue: Giving My All for the Game
Wendel Clark and Jim Lang
Simon and Schuster Canada
ISBN 9781501135989
eISBN 9781501146510

To be honest I have never been a Toronto Maple Leaf’s Fan! That being said I have always appreciated the play and leadership of Wendel Clark. I always enjoyed watching him play. And to be honest I think the biggest mistake Toronto has made in my lifetime was trading Clark the first time to give Gilmour the ‘C’! But that is jumping ahead a bit. In many ways this book is like Clark’s NHL Career, it is tightly written and written from the heart. I remember hearing rumour about an addendum to NHL rule 56 that is the hands were taped and you fought you got an extra game misconduct. When I was a kid we were told this was the Clark rule. I can remember him dropping the gloves and having his hands taped like a boxer.

I have always respected Wendel Clark, not just for his play but also his leadership and from all I had heard he was a good guy who loved what he was doing. As a man who served three different stints in Toronto, starting with being drafted by Toronto to his third time in the blue and white and retiring form the game. Clark entered the league with a bang, in the 1985-86 season he has 45 points and 227 penalty minutes in 66 games. In his final season he played 33 games and had a total 6 points and 34 penalty minutes. But I remember this older more mature Clark providing leadership on and off the ice. Clark played with 6 teams during his time in the NHL but the vast majority of that was with the Leaf’s and as such the majority of this book focuses on that time.

The chapters in this book are:
Chapter 1: Growing Up in Kelvington
Chapter 2: Hitting the Road
Chapter 3: 1985 World Juniors
Chapter 4: Welcome to the NHL
Chapter 5: International Play
Chapter 6: Captain Crunch
Chapter 7: Breaking Down
Chapter 8: Leaving Home
Chapter 9: Journeyman Years
Chapter 10: Making an Exit
Chapter 11: Life After Hockey
A Tribute to My Dad

The story follows a farm boy from Kelvington to playing in the world juniors to a long career in the NHL. Clark was not a fighter growing up; it was something that just ended up coming to him until he was a junior. Before reading this I was unaware that Clark started and played on defense until he played in the world juniors. And as he states that is one of the things that gave him an advantage, he often knew what an opponent defensive player would do in ways that someone who always played forward would not. The book has lots of great stories, mostly from on the ice.

Clark is pretty open and honest with us; about his successes and his mistakes. He also shares about what the years of abuse did to his body. What it took to play so long, with the style of play he lived and with all the fights. But Clark was determined, determined to keep playing, determined to heal his body. I believe few people get to pursue their dreams the way Clark did. For him hockey appears to always have been fun. And that enjoyment of time on the ice, and after hockey come through in this great read. This is the biography of a gifted man, and a good man. It was well worth the time to read it. Even if you are not a Leaf’s fan.

No comments: