By Jim Diamond
Sitting at his locker stall at Centennial Sportsplex following Tuesday’s practice Rich Clune’s right hand bore some abrasions left over from a recent fight.
Just over eight minutes into the first period of Sunday night’s game, Clune skated up ice and was hit into the boards at the red line between the benches by Washington defenseman Patrick Wey. Following the hit, some words were exchanged and then the two dropped the gloves.
Clune’s helmet quickly fell off while the two traded punches early in the scrap. Wey’s remained on his head. Several of Clune’s punches appeared to connect with the visor affixed to Wey’s helmet, which likely caused the damage Clune’s hand was sporting Tuesday.
At the end of the fight, Clune landed a right uppercut that connected squarely with Wey’s jaw. Wey dropped to the ice immediately and stayed there for a while until assistance arrived. He was able to skate off the ice on his own, albeit with some difficulty.
“I didn’t like it,” Clune said. “When you get engaged in a fight, obviously anything can kind of happen. I’m not going to cry alligator tears. It is a sport, a combat sport. I didn’t realize that the kid went out and I was concerned for him for sure.”
Fighting is part of Clune’s game, and while injuries such as the one Wey sustained are rare, there is always the possibility that one will occur when the gloves are dropped.
Clune obtained Wey’s phone number and sent him a text message. Clune said Tuesday that Wey responded to that message, and said he appreciated the fact that Clune reached out to him.
Per hockeyfights.com, Clune’s 16 fighting majors are just three behind Tom Sestito for this season’s league lead. Again per hockeyfights.com, Sunday’s fight was Wey’s first in the NHL. His only other fight in their database took place January 21, 2009 when Wey was in the United States Hockey League.
Clune saw 10:46 of ice time in Sunday’s game, the third consecutive game in which he received double-digit minutes. Predators head coach Barry Trotz liked how Clune responded in the aftermath of the fight.
“He’s been doing it long enough, that’s part of the role,” Trotz said. “Just as when it happens to you, I think you’ve got to blank it out and forget about it. We talk about having that short-term memory; I think that’s what those guys do.”
The Washington Post reports that Wey will not be in Washington’s lineup Tuesday night, quoting Capitals head coach Adam Oates as saying Wey is, “still not feeling great.”