Kody Clark, son of Wendel, makes game-winning debut for 67's
16-year-old 67's player embraces dad's legacy and hopes Sens fans forgive sins of the father
First Clarke MacArthur. Then Dion Phaneuf. Now this.
Ottawa hockey fans are starting to get used to adopting former foes from the blue and white as their own.
This time, they'll be cheering for 16-year-old Kody Clark. He's the son of former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Wendel Clark. And he's wearing the red, white and black of the Ottawa 67's.
"I never thought of that but it's pretty interesting though," said Clark from the team's bus en route to the 67's season opener against the Petes in Peterborough on Thursday. "Hopefully they'll like me and I think (Sens fans) respected him as a player. Although he wasn't on the team they were cheering for, they understood what he was doing."
The 67's went on to win that game, with Clark scoring the game-winner in the third period. Safe to say, with performances like that, fans will warm up to him pretty quickly.
Clark Sr. had all the clichéd qualities of an NHL hall of famer: grit, determination and a scorer's nose for the net. Clark Jr. knows he has big skates to fill. He also knows he's his own player.
Born year dad retired
"He just tells me to keep working hard. Don't worry about anything else. If you're working hard on the ice everything else will fall as it should. As long as I'm working hopefully good things will come." says Clark, 16, who was born the year his dad retired and grew up watching highlights of his dad's exploits for the Leafs on YouTube.
So, what's it like being the son of one of Leafs Nation's most beloved players?
"It's definitely very inspiring just watching all the videos of him playing. Just walking around downtown with him and you see people stop asking questions, telling stories about the days he was playing. And then a lot of times people pulling me aside, who I've never met, tell me how much of an impact he had on them and for the city [of Toronto] as a whole. He's very inspiring and hopefully I can do something similar one day."
With an NHL dad, Kody appreciates the fact he had some unique privileges.
"Until I was 14 years old we had a house with a rink right there and that definitely helped a lot because everyday after school I'd come home, go on the rink, a lot of times we'd have guys from the neighbourhood, all the guys from around Aurora King City come over, we'd have shinny games. That's pretty much where he taught me everything I know about hockey. He taught me how to shoot. He taught me how to skate, so it was nice having that and it definitely helped a lot."
'The whole house was hockey'
So was there ever any choice, to pick a career other than hockey? The simple answer: Nope.
"I was always carrying a hockey stick around the house with me, and the whole house was hockey. So everything I knew when I was a young kid was about hockey. So when I finally became old enough to play, age five or six, I was so excited to get on the ice. It just took off ever since then.
And if his dad disapproved, he didn't know it.
"He's never really had that conversation with me. He tries to stand back a little bit now but he knows that's what I want to do. He lets me come to him whenever I need advice or ask him questions but he knows that's what I want. I know that's what I want."
So, which parts of Wendel's game does the young man want to develop for himself?
"I obviously won't be able to match his shot right away, but just his work ethic and how much heart he played with, just giving 100 per cent every time he stepped on the ice. If you can do that you'll be pretty good."