Wendel Clark

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Wendel Clark
Wendel Clark.jpg
Clark in 2008
Born (1966-10-25) October 25, 1966 (age 54)
Kelvington, Saskatchewan, Canada
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 194 lb (88 kg; 13 st 12 lb)
Position Left wing/Defence
Shot Left
Played for Toronto Maple Leafs
Quebec Nordiques
New York Islanders
Tampa Bay Lightning
Detroit Red Wings
Chicago Blackhawks
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 1st overall, 1985
Toronto Maple Leafs
Playing career 1985–2000
Medal record
Representing Canada Canada
Men's ice hockey
World Junior Championships
Gold medal – first place 1985 Finland

Wendel L. Clark (born October 25, 1966) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player. His professional career lasted from 1985 until 2000, during which time he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Quebec Nordiques, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. He was chosen first overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft by the Maple Leafs, the team he played with on three occasions, captaining the team from 1991 to 1994. A fan favourite in the city, Clark has been cited by multiple current NHL players as a boyhood idol.

Playing career[edit]


A star junior hockey defenceman with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, Clark was a member of Canada's gold medal-winning team at the 1985 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.[1]

Toronto Maple Leafs (1985–1994)[edit]

Clark was converted to forward after he was selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. Clark was known for his physical play and his offensive mind combined with scoring prowess. As tough as Clark was, his scoring touch and offensive ability was equal to his on-ice toughness. Clark's 227 PIM in his rookie season was the 1985–86 Toronto Maple Leafs team-high, along with 34 goals which also led the team. After his rookie season, he was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and finished third in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

The serious back injury that Clark suffered during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks in 1987 when he was cross-checked into the crossbar of his own goal, hindered his progress as an elite NHL player. Nonetheless, he was a crowd favourite at Maple Leaf Gardens and won a place in the hearts of Leaf fans as he provided a spark during the latter part of the Harold Ballard era, considered the darkest period in the storied franchise's history.

Clark was named captain of the team for the 1991–92 season. During the 1992–93 season, Clark's second year captaining the team, the Leafs set team records in wins (44) and points (99) and also made the playoffs for the first time in three years. The Leafs had a memorable run to the Campbell Conference Finals, but after leading the best-of-seven series three games to two coming within one game of advancing to the Stanley Finals, they lost to the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings, who were coached by Clark's cousin, Barry Melrose.

Clark with the Maple Leafs in 1994.

Two career-defining moments happened in this series for Clark: his toe-to-toe fight in Game 1 of the series with enforcer Marty McSorley in retribution for a big hit McSorley made on Leafs star Doug Gilmour, and his hat-trick in Game Six of the seven-game series. "That series was probably the most excitement I saw around here," proclaimed Clark, who had a legendary series performance with 20 points (10 goals and 10 assists) in his 21 games during the '93 playoffs. "It was the furthest the Leafs had advanced in a long time, the team was coming together at the right time and everybody was doing their jobs."

Clark managed a career-high 46 goals in 64 games for the Leafs during the 1993–94 season, playing on a line with Dave Andreychuk and Doug Gilmour. In the playoffs, the Leafs made a second consecutive trip to the Conference Finals but fell 4–1 to the Vancouver Canucks, who were coached by future Leafs coach Pat Quinn.

Trades, return to Toronto and later years (1994–2000)[edit]

In June 1994, with his value at an all-time high, Clark was traded to the Quebec Nordiques in a multi-player deal that notably involved a young Mats Sundin. He was succeeded as Maple Leafs captain by Gilmour. Clark played the lockout-shortened 1994–95 NHL season in Quebec.

After the Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, Clark became embroiled in a contract dispute with the team. As a result, shortly before the beginning of the 1995–96 campaign, he was sent to the New York Islanders in a three-way trade that brought Claude Lemieux to Colorado and Steve Thomas to the New Jersey Devils. Clark played 58 games with the Islanders but finished the season back in Toronto.

The Islanders received a first-round pick from the Leafs (4th overall in 1997) which turned out to be Roberto Luongo.

In 1998 Clark signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he earned a spot on the North American All-Star team and went on to score 28 goals in 65 games. Despite his success in Tampa Bay, he was dealt at the trade deadline to the Detroit Red Wings, where he finished the 1998–99 season. Clark signed with the Chicago Blackhawks later in 1999 but only appeared in 13 games with the team.

Upon returning to the Leafs in 2000, after being benched by the Blackhawks, Clark was not particularly effective for the remainder of the regular season, but he found his form for the Leafs' playoff run. Leaf fans gave their former captain a 90-second standing ovation after Clark barreled into the New Jersey Devils zone and hit the post in Game 1.[2] During Game 4, Clark assisted on the game-winning goal that gave the Leafs a 2–1 victory and tied the series with the Devils.


Clark is now employed by the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club as a community ambassador and public relations. He can be seen at virtually all Leaf home games, usually with his wife Denise and children. The Toronto Maple Leafs honoured the former captain by raising his legendary number 17 to the rafters on November 22, 2008, at the Air Canada Centre.[3] The number was officially retired by the team on October 15, 2016, during a home pre-game ceremony in which 17 players representing 11 sweater numbers were similarly honoured.[4] Prior to the Leafs' Hockey Day in Canada game against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, February 18, 2017, it was announced that statues of iconic Leafs Charlie Conacher, Red Kelly, Frank Mahovlich and Wendel would be added to the Leafs' Legends Row, located outside the Air Canada Centre, as part of the ongoing Maple Leafs' Centennial Anniversary.[5]

He owns Wendel Clark's Classic Grill and Sports Lounge, with four restaurants in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Brampton, Ontario;Oshawa, Ontario; and Burlington, Ontario.[6][7] He resides in King City.[6][7][8] [9]

Personal life[edit]


Clark's first cousin is ex-NHLer and ESPN commentator Barry Melrose; he is also a cousin of former Detroit Red Wing and Saskatoon Blade Joe Kocur. Clark's younger brother Kerry Clark was also a professional hockey player; he was a career minor leaguer who is in the top 60 in minor league history in penalty minutes with 2812.[10] Clark's other brother, Donn Clark, is best known for being the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders and the Saskatoon Blades.

Clark's son, Kody Clark, began playing for the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League in 2016.[11] Kody was selected 47th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

Though it was released very early in his career, arguably before he became well known as a player, Clark was celebrated by the Canadian band The Rheostatics in the song "The Ballad of Wendel Clark Parts I & II" on their debut album, Greatest Hits.


Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1983–84 Saskatoon Blades WHL 72 23 45 68 225
1984–85 Saskatoon Blades WHL 64 32 55 87 253 3 3 3 6 7
1985–86 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 66 34 11 45 227 10 5 1 6 47
1986–87 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 80 37 23 60 271 13 6 5 11 38
1987–88 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 28 12 11 23 80
1988–89 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 15 7 4 11 66
1989–90 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 38 18 8 26 116 5 1 1 2 19
1990–91 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 63 18 16 34 152
1991–92 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 43 19 21 40 123
1992–93 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 66 17 22 39 193 21 10 10 20 51
1993–94 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 64 46 30 76 115 18 9 7 16 24
1994–95 Quebec Nordiques NHL 37 12 18 30 45 6 1 2 3 6
1995–96 New York Islanders NHL 58 24 19 43 60
1995–96 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 13 8 7 15 16 6 2 2 4 2
1996–97 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 65 30 19 49 75
1997–98 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 47 12 7 19 80
1998–99 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 65 28 14 42 35
1998–99 Detroit Red Wings NHL 12 4 2 6 2 10 2 3 5 10
1999–2000 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 13 2 0 2 13
1999–2000 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 20 2 2 4 21 6 1 1 2 4
NHL totals 793 330 234 564 1690 95 37 32 69 201


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1985 Canada WJC 7 3 2 5 10

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1985 World Junior Hockey Championships at TSN
  2. ^ "Cujo and Clark lead Leafs in lackluster opener". cbc.sports.ca. CBC Sports. 27 April 2000. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  3. ^ Zwolinski, Mark (22 November 2008). "Wendel Clark: King of Leafs Nation". thestar.com. Toronto Star. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  4. ^ Stubbs, Dave. "Maple Leafs retire 11 jersey numbers at ceremony". nhl.com. National Hockey League. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  5. ^ McGran, Kevin (18 February 2017). "Leafs adding four more statues to Legends Row". thestar.com. Toronto Star. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b Honey, Kim (2008-01-23). "Wendel Clark muscles into bar biz". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  7. ^ a b "Wendel Clark's - Classic Grill and Sports Lounge - Subsection: Location". Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  8. ^ Rea, Bill (2008-04-30). "Wendel Clark Signs Autographs". King Sentinel. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  9. ^ "Steeltown Smoke to replace Wendel Clark's in Hamilton's Lister Block". The Hamilton Spectator. 18 December 2019.
  10. ^ Top 50 All-Time Minor League Penalty Minutes
  11. ^ "Kody Clark, son of Leafs hero Wendel, makes 67's debut | CBC News".
  12. ^ "Capitals' Kody Clark: Drafted by Washington in Round 2". CBS Sports. 23 June 2018. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  13. ^ "Wendel Clark". Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Toronto Maple Leafs retire the numbers of 17 players". NHL.com. October 15, 2016. Retrieved October 16, 2016.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Mario Lemieux
NHL first overall draft pick
Succeeded by
Joe Murphy
Preceded by
Al Iafrate
Toronto Maple Leafs first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Vincent Damphousse
Preceded by
Rob Ramage
Toronto Maple Leafs captain
Succeeded by
Doug Gilmour