Former Los Angeles Kings forward Rich Clune, who previously cleared waivers in October, 2010, was claimed on waivers by the Nashville Predators on January 15, the same day that former Kings prospect Thomas Hickey was claimed by the New York Islanders.
Prior to this season, Clune’s entire NHL regular season game experience came late in the 2009-10 season, when he registered two assists in 14 games in the build-up to Los Angeles’ first playoff appearance in eight years. In the six-game first round loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the Kings were 2-2 in the games in which he was in the lineup.
Clune has been a key member of the Manchester Monarchs for the better part of the last five seasons and tallied seven points and 98 penalty minutes over 35 games in 2012-13 prior to joining Nashville.
In five games for the Predators this season, Clune has made a good impression on head coach Barry Trotz, who said that he’ll have to keep “doing what he’s doing” in order to continue to earn his minutes.
“He’s playing with a lot of energy and he’s going to the hard areas. He takes the body. He’s pretty detailed. So he’s been a really good pickup for us,” Trotz said of Clune, who has no points and is a plus-one while averaging 5:21 of ice time. He leads the team with 19 penalty minutes.
Rich Clune, on returning to the Toyota Sports Center for a Nashville practice on Wednesday:
“It’s strange. I’ve been to a lot of practices, training camps, pre-game skates here. It’s kind of weird to be on the other side of it.”
Clune, on who he continues to keep in touch with:
“I had lunch with Andrew Bodnarchuk – who just got called up – and his girlfriend, and Jordan Nolan and Jake Muzzin yesterday in Santa Monica. I still keep in touch with Drew Doughty and Trevor Lewis. But I was really close with all those guys in the shrot time I played here. Obviously, Ron Hextall has been a big influence in my life, and I’ve got nothing but respect for him.”
Clune, on what he learned from the 2010 playoff series versus Vancouver:
“It’s a big show. You’ve got to be ready to go at any second, and every play counts at this level. If you make a turnover, it’s probably going in the back of your net. The skill is so much more high-end up here compared to the American League. It’s not even comparable. I just keep it simple. I do what makes me good – be physical, hard on the forecheck, be a gritty player, hard to play against. That’s kind of my role, and I’ve got to make plays as well and hopefully I can contribute a little bit offensively.”
Clune, on whether he’s excited to face his former team:
“Yeah, I am., Like I said. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself and take my spot in the lineup for granted. If I’m in the lineup, I’ll be just doing what I’ve been doing the past few games – be a physical presence and use my speed.”
Drew Doughty, on whether he’s excited to play against his friend and former teammate:
“Yeah, for sure. Cluney’ll have something to prove since the Kings let him go, so there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be running around. He’ll probably try and fight someone or make a lot of big hits, so it’ll be fun o play against him.”