Heart And Soul
It has been a whirlwind of an off-season for Dean Lombardi and the Los Angeles Kings. In the span of two weeks, the Kings won their first Stanley Cup, hosted a championship parade, presented qualifying offer to numerous restricted free agents, prepared and completed a successful 2012 NHL Entry Draft and re-signed two key members of their Cup winning team.
The Kings also made it a priority to re-sign two key members of the Monarchs from last season in center Marc-Andre Cliche and left wing Rich Clune. Whether they make the Kings line-up out of training camp in September or return to Manchester next season remains to be seen but the value they bring to the Kings organization is undeniable.
“They are certainly a big part of our success,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “They do a lot off the ice. They have shown great character by playing through injuries and working to get back into the line-up during times when they have been less than 100 percent. They come up with inspirational play and done the detail work that is necessary too win in a league where it is really hard to win.”
Clune grabbed six goals and nine assists for 15 points while leading the team and finishing third in the American Hockey League with 253 penalty minutes in 56 games last season. He is a high energy guy that knows when his team needs a boost and just how to give it to them via timely checks or coming to the defense of a teammate on the ice. He has a craft of drawing timely penalties to give his team the man advantage. Clune has built strong relationships with his teammates and enjoys being a member of Monarchs Country.
“(Team comradery) was one of the top reasons why I decided to come back,” said Clune about the strong relationship with his teammates and the organization. “I have invested a lot of time in this organization and they have invested a lot of time in me. I feel really comfortable with the team and organization from the management down to the coaching staff in Manchester and all the players in Manchester. I have really grown attached to them and I did not really want to go anywhere else at this time in my life.”
While Clune does not wear a letter on his jersey during games signifying his leadership role for all others to see, he does still offer leadership as one of the more vocal leaders both on the ice and off. Clune assisted his roommate, Cliche, as a veteran on the team and a voice of reason and direction for the younger players.
Cliche recently served as the Monarchs Captain for his second consecutive season. The teams under Cliche's guidance have been very close knit groups and a lot of credit can go to his leadership. Cliche has also led by example on the ice setting career-highs last season in goals (17), assists (24) and points (41). He also led all Monarchs forwards in plus/minus with a plus-9 in 72 games played.
“(Cliche and Clune) have been a constant driving force behind our team and have continued to develop throughout the year and I think there is a lot to be said for that,” explained Morris. “Continuity plays a big role in the leadership department. Returning players are often thrust into a mentoring role and those guys obviously made a huge commitment in the organization. Their character and their work habits are infectious and there is not much they have not done already. I have every reason to believe, if they are back in Manchester, they will be great role models for the younger players that they will be playing with.”