Meeting Wendel Clark

As a Toronto hockey fan born in the 70s, I idolized Wendel Clark. You'd be hard pressed to find a Toronto hockey fan born in the 70s who didn't. Here's something I wrote about Wendel almost 10 years ago.

I will never forget the 1985-86 post season when we swept the Chicago Black Hawks in three games. That was when my brothers and I first broke out the Diet Coke. You would have thought we had just won the cup. Wendel was our leader and a member of The Hound Line with Russ Courtnall and Gary Leeman. We took the St. Louis Blues to a seventh game before bowing out. We went just as deep the next season, too.

Wendel Clark scored the overtime winner in the greatest game I ever saw. My brother Ryan proudly wore his #17 jersey and we all suffered during his long periods of inactivity due to injuries. Clark was our guy and pound for pound the toughest player you'll ever see playing the game. Doug Gilmour remains my favourite Leaf, but Clark was the definitive Leaf.

Last night, I had an opportunity to meet #17. His new book Bleeding Blue is coming out, and there was a little get together at Maple Leaf Gardens to commemorate the occasion.

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I got a photo and some time alone with him. We primarily discussed the fan-created All Heart tribute video I've been enjoying for the past decade. Wendel knows about it, Wendel loves it and I was able to fill him in on the origin thanks to some excellent sleuthing by Down Goes Brown. Wendel seemed genuinely interested and as humble as I'd heard.

Wendel Clark and Me

After our five minute conversation, others wanted his attention. After four years of having such people I admire visit me for 60-120 minute one-on-one conversations in my house, I think I've become conditioned to expect that. But no, I chose not to invite Wendel to my house. I saved that imposition for Ken Reid.

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I've had an advance copy of Bleeding Blue for some time now and I love the stories. It really is an ideal holiday gift for any Toronto hockey fan born in the 70s.

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Comments (11 - click here to join in!)

GUNTer

awesome! Clark was also one of my favourites. I have a life-sized cardboard cutout for a promo he was doing for NHLPA (I got it from Shoppers Drug Mart when they were going to toss it out). I had it for a few years and then Clark was coming to my place of work (at the time) and I really wanted an autograph. Unfortunately I was going to be out of the country when he was coming so my good friend trotted down with the lifesized cut out and stood in line. Wendel's wife came over and said he was not going to sign it - I cant remember the reason. I think it might have been they thought my friend wanted to sell it. Anyway my friend pleaded but the wife said no, then Wendel overheard and came over and just quickly signed it. HAHAHHA I was so freaking happy.
When we first moved into this house (15 or so years ago) I didn't have any front drapes and I had Wendel perched in my front window for the longest time - it was kinda creepy. He eventually made his way into storage in my basement but I still have him.
Clark is awesome.

October 22, 2016 @ 10:49 AM

Jason from Sudbury

Congrats Mike. I liked Wendle Clark, too bad he played for the wrong team. lol

Ken Reid would be cool to have on the podcast. Try and make that happen.b

October 22, 2016 @ 11:47 AM

Rob J

In no particular order, my most memorable sports-celebrity encounters are: McCown, MY, Gilles Meloche, Pat Riggin, Doug Jarvis, Tim Bernhardt, Kyle Clifford, Mark Hunter, Andrew Desjardins, and the 3rd base coach of the Giants in 1987.

October 22, 2016 @ 11:51 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Jason from Sudbury

Ken said he'd be happy to do it. He even gave me his business card. I'll reach out and make it happen.

Jim Lang was also there. [sentence redacted]

October 22, 2016 @ 12:48 PM

twins from bolton

I've met Wendel 2 times & both were amazing. 1st was when Paul Coffey opened his car dealership in Bolton early 2000's & many NHL players were there for open house. Took my 2 boys & figured to be very busy which it was. Clark was in 1 of the service bays & nobody was talking to him. We approached & had a good visit. He asked my boys (around 10-11 yrs old) about hockey & they both said I play baseball & hate hockey, playing & watching "but we know who you are". I was embarrassed as Hell. Wendel laughed & said that's OK & said he played BBall when he was younger also. He signed 3 pics for us &said good luck in BBall. The kids were awestruck.
2nd time I was at a charity dinner which our co. sponsored & he was one of the speakers. When I was leaving I had a brief chat with him & as he said "my heart is & always will be with the Leafs - 3 times on the team".
Paul Coffey was great also spending time with everyone. SInce then Paul has opened another car dealership beside his 1st at Mayfield & HWY 50.

October 22, 2016 @ 2:10 PM

Jason from Sudbury

@Mike: "[sentence redacted]"? C'mon now. You can't do that! That's not fair. lol

I take it Jim Lang declined the podcast? I remember him being on your list. Personally I think he would've been a great guest to have on. He's been around for a while, I'm sure he's got some interesting stories. Also I would've liked to hear his thoughts on getting fired from the Fan's morning show even though that's old news now, but would still be interesting.

October 22, 2016 @ 6:46 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I did not extend an invitation to Jim Lang yesterday. I just said hi as I'd never met him before.

October 22, 2016 @ 7:33 PM

Jason C

Love it!
Reminds me of the time Wendel was a celebrity guest bartender at a Jack Astor's up in Richmond Hill many years ago. I got him to sign the tshirt I was wearing. I have never worn the tshirt since for fear of the signature fading. Favourite Leaf ever.
https://www.flickr.com/gp/82799646@N02/Y0TjvU

October 23, 2016 @ 8:59 AM

Rick C in Oakville

Very cool memories of Wendel!

October 23, 2016 @ 6:49 PM

Brad

Wow, nice to hear people who have a good experience with Wendel. I have met a few athletes and high profile celebs and Wendel was by the biggest jerk I had to deal with. The company I had worked for even had paid for his visit, and it made me change my mind on him as a person and player.

October 25, 2016 @ 3:27 PM

Milan Adam

Wendel! Wow what a lucky guy you are, I'd be honoured to meet him!! I've got a couple jerseys myself that I save for special occasions. I will have to go and pick up a copy of the book; I'm ashamed to admit, this is the first I'd heard of it!

October 27, 2016 @ 1:45 PM

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