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What if Wendel Clark played defense?

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12-31-2013, 04:04 PM
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Claude The Fraud
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What if Wendel Clark played defense?

Excuse-me if it has already been discussed, but I was wondering what could have been his career if he played defense.

To wich defensemen would you compare him?

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12-31-2013, 04:16 PM
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Killion
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Thats a very good question & something Ive wondered about as well. He was offensively minded, excellent skater, stickhandler, shots & hockey smarts, not to mention totally fearless in laying on the body and or fists. Probert, Kocur, didnt matter who & he more than held his own. I'd guess multiple All Star, sort of a cross between Orr & Stevens but with a greater propensity to fight.

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12-31-2013, 05:34 PM
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Johnny Engine
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Killion's view is pretty romantic-sounding (not that I disagree with it), but you could see Clark rise in the "career value" column, as being a defenseman would mean he'd probably do less chasing other players for hits, and more stationary pushing and shoving, and consequently a lot less wear and tear on his body. He'd probably get quite a lot of disrespect from fans around the league and some media for being a cowboy who didn't care about solid, quiet defensive play, but Leafs fans would have loved him just the same.

Hard to say whether he'd have been better off in the long run.

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12-31-2013, 10:25 PM
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Hardyvan123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Engine View Post
Killion's view is pretty romantic-sounding (not that I disagree with it), but you could see Clark rise in the "career value" column, as being a defenseman would mean he'd probably do less chasing other players for hits, and more stationary pushing and shoving, and consequently a lot less wear and tear on his body. He'd probably get quite a lot of disrespect from fans around the league and some media for being a cowboy who didn't care about solid, quiet defensive play, but Leafs fans would have loved him just the same.

Hard to say whether he'd have been better off in the long run.
Exactly and not sure why Killion would have Orr and Stevens in the same post as Clark.

Clark might have a better legacy if he had stayed on the back end, he played there in junior but man that's really hard to say.

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12-31-2013, 10:41 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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If my memory serves me correct , I believe the Leafs did try him at defense early in his career. Given his excellent shot and ability to line up checks and take the body, as well as his size, I think he would match up well with Denis Potvin. The only thing I think he's missing is Potvin's playmaking skills. Clark had one year with 35 goals and something like 9 assists. However, at defense, Clark would see the ice a whole lot differently than a winger and might have adapted to it.

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01-02-2014, 10:15 AM
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I don't know...
I think that would have been way too much responsibility for a young kid playing d on a poor defensive team.
I suspect he would have been on the ice for a lot of goals against, his confidence would have been affected, and he wouldn't have had the career he did.
There were a lot of young Leafs d-men that really struggled to find their game back then, that had a lot of promise coming in.
Jim Benning was ruined.
Gary Nylund never came close to meeting expectations, and became a glorified tough guy.
Bob McGill became a tough guy.
Luke Richardson struggled for a long time before being traded away (salvaged his career as a solid defensive d-man)
Al Iafrate looked to be a gong show for his first few seasons. Great size, skater, shot...hard to characterize his career, but definitely not a failure.

At any rate, I don't think throwing Clark on the back end in TO would have helped his career, I think it would have hurt it greatly. His offensive game likely wouldn't have developed, and he would have become more of a one dimensional fighter type (maybe a lot like Gary Nylund).

What would have saved Clark is if he could have picked his spots better (which would likely have been impossible for him). By all means, as a rookie, come out guns ablazing, and let the league know how tough/fearsome you are...
But after that, there should have been a sharp decline in the fighting (and even hitting). Do it enough to keep the opposition concerned, but Wendell didn't have the body to play as wrecklessly as he did.

Guys are bigger now, but with the decrease in fighting, and the unwritten ban on all hard hits, I think Wendell would have actually been a better player today than he was in the 80's and 90's.

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