It’s been a long road for Rich Clune. For those who remember the end of training camp, Clune was likely to earn a spot on the Kings’ roster, but then injured his groin late in the preseason. Clune returned, and was playing well in Manchester, then re-injured the groin. Now he’s back, healthy and has been productive of late in Manchester.
The Kings got Clune two summers ago in the trade that sent Lauri Tukonen to Dallas. Clune, 22, had three goals and nine assists in Manchester this season, but his game is that of a gritty, energy, “agitator” sort of forward. As a former 30-goal scorer in juniors, he can also put the puck in the net, so it will be interesting to see how Clune’s role evolves with the Kings. Here’s what he had to say after today’s morning skate…
Question: When did you find out you were coming here?
CLUNE: “Today, at around 9 a.m.”
Question: What was yesterday like? What did they tell you?
CLUNE: “I was just sitting on my couch, with (Justin) Azevedo and (Geoff) Walker, and we were playing video games. I got a call, and they just told me I was on a flight to California, and that I would be contacted in the morning as to what my plans were. I was a little stressed out, but I’m not really up to date on the Internet transactions, so I didn’t know what was going on. Obviously Brandon Segal got picked up by Dallas. I was oblivious to that, so I didn’t know what was going on. I just packed a suitcase and headed to the airport.”
Question: Packed all the warm-weather clothes?
CLUNE: “All my warm-weather clothes were still here. I never took them with me.”
Question: What has this season been like for you? There had to be a lot of disappointment after getting hurt in training camp…
CLUNE: “It took me a while to get going in Manchester. Obviously, you guys have seen it with Jarret Stoll and a couple other guys. Groins are sensitive things, so I kind of fell out of shape after a while. Then things turned around, and we had a great team. If you look at my numbers, people are going to say what they want, but my game is completely opposite from being evaluated by numbers. I’ve been having a good year, pretty good.”
Question: It seems like you bring a skill set that maybe the team doesn’t have here. What do you think you can add?
CLUNE: “I know that Simmer is a hard-nosed guy, and everyone is hard-nosed here. To become a hockey player, you’ve got to have toughness. As I play, I think people will start to see what I bring. It’s a little different each night. Sometimes it’s one thing, sometimes it’s another. I would like to bring a little bit of everything here.”
Question: Playing your first NHL game tonight, I’m sure it’s something you’ve thought about for a long time…
CLUNE: “It’s that dream that every kid has, getting to the highest level possible and playing in the NHL. It’s pretty cliche, but there’s nothing more true than that. I’m just trying not to think, really, at all. Just play.”
Question: Are your parents or any family going to be here?
CLUNE: “My mom was flying down today to see me in Manchester. The last time my dad came down, I re-injured my groin. My dad has seen me play one game this year. They’ve got the NHL package, so my dad and my cousins and stuff will be watching back home.”