|Rich Clune in camp (photo: Ikiri)
During the Kings training camp last September, high-energy forward Rich Clune was starting to turn some heads.
Many thought he might even have a chance to crack the line-up in Los Angeles rather than spend a third season in Manchester (AHL).
Originally drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2005, Clune has since spent time in the ECHL, AHL and NHL. All the while, patiently waiting for his opportunity to remain in the big show.
Clune stayed with the Kings through Frozen Fury weekend in Las Vegas. However, ultimately, he lost out on an NHL roster spot – in part, due to the emergence of Kyle Clifford.
No problem, said Clune, when we spoke Friday night on the steps of the Dodger Dugout (several players were at the stadium to throw out the first pitch).
“It was a good year for me because I was able to get a lot more ice than I probably would have in LA,” was Clune’s view on his 66 games in Manchester last season. “It’s a long road. There’s a lot of young guys and we had a really talented team. It sucks we didn’t go further (in the playoffs). I think we could have easily (won) that first series with Binghamton. What – five games in overtime? But, I had a lot of fun. Wherever I am, I like to have a good time.”
Things haven’t been quite as fun since arriving back in Los Angeles. He’s been working out with Kings strength and conditioning coach Tim Adams, left wing Dustin Penner, etc. (more info on those grueling workouts can be found here)
“I came in for some training with the guys and just did a week with (that crew). My calves are sore,” he complained – before joking “that’s why I’m leaning up against this railing.”
The big bomb came just recently though, when it was announced Manchester’s leading goal-scorer form last season, Bud Holloway, inked a deal to play in Europe too.
When asked what he thought of all this, Clune had a very succinct answer – “The mighty dollar!”
Form there, he began to offer a more detailed explanation, “My personal opinion is that when you get an organization that has that many talented guys, and there might be a bit of an ego thing going on, you’re going to get log jams. Any one of us could probably have played in the NHL (last season) – I don’t know about necessarily for the Kings – but, you go to a weaker team and you’d probably get your shot right there.”
Besides the money, he also thinks something else is up – “Maybe a little frustration. As a kid, just like with anything in life, you can get frustrated. But, hopefully it’s not the end of the road for those guys and they’ll make their way back to North America. It sucks. A guy like Bud was probably right there. Yet, he probably got some more money than he would have in Manchester.”
The two were together last weekend at fellow teammate (and future twitter superstar) Ray Kaunisto’s wedding. Simultaneous to the festivities, news was just starting to leak out about Holloway’s impending trip overseas.
“I saw Bud there and we had some laughs,” said Clune. “It’s going to suck though. Whether I’m in Manchester or LA next season, it would have been fun to just be around him. He’s a really good guy. But, people make their own decisions and that’s life, right?”
When it comes to his own decisions, he’s reached at least one firm conclusion – social media isn’t for him. “I’m not on twitter or facebook. I’d get in too much trouble. I call my friends when I want to vent.”
Hope he has a good long distance plan for next season.
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