Rich Clune has earned the admiration of many Nashville Predators fans this season for his energetic game and willingness to drop the gloves on behalf of his teammates. An article hitting the internet today seems sure to win over the rest.
ESPN.com's Scott Burnside brings us a lengthy story on Rich Clune, recovering alcoholic, and the moment he hit rock bottom, during the 2010 playoffs when he suited up for the Los Angeles Kings:
The perpetual drinking and the other drugs have sapped him of his strength and conditioning and, worse, his desire to play the game. And in the moment that should have been a cherished memory for life, burnished to a healthy glow to be remembered with pride and shared with children and grandchildren, Clune is instead filled with disgust and self-loathing at what his life had become, what he had become.
"Here was every kid's dream, and I wished I was anywhere else," Clune recalled. "I was so disgusted with myself. I was just so emotionally bankrupt.
It's a remarkable story, which goes a long way towards explaining why Clune hadn't played in the NHL after those 2010 playoffs before getting his chance with Nashville this season. Now, he hopes that story can help others facing similar demons:
It's been almost three years, and Clune feels comfortable enough in his own skin now that he's willing to share his story. Although his is the story of a man who nearly threw away a professional hockey career but got it back, he is hopeful that anyone reading this -- boy, girl, athlete or not, young, old -- will perhaps gain the courage to ask for help, courage it took Clune a long time to find.
Set aside a few minutes and read the rest of Burnside's interview, it sheds a great deal of light on a player who we didn't know anything about just a few weeks ago, but is rapidly climbing the ranks of most-popular Preds.
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You can't help but wonder, is this part of a pattern with the Predators? After supporting Brian McGrattan and Jordin Tootoo in their recovery, perhaps the team which places such high value on character and work ethic sees something special in a player who is already fighting a genuine life-or-death battle every day away from the rink.