Unless you’re a Sharks fan, you probably don’t know much about left winger Ryane Clowe except that he’s injured a lot and made a pretty risky play against the Kings last season. But have no fear — we’re here to tell you why this guy is an unsung hero.
Everyone loves a goal scorer, and Clowe has scored his share of them. He is, however, coming off of a downward trend in 2011-12, with only 17 goals and 45 points and (according to Fear the Fin) a diminished ability to control play along the boards, which he’s always been good at. Much of this can be attributed to the injuries he sustained both this past season and in 2010-11. (And, let’s face it, the Sharks have more players to depend on for offense — Pavelski, Thornton, and Couture are just a few names that come to mind.)
Aside from that, Clowe is a player with value that, for many people, supercedes pure stats. He’s got an edge to his game that not many on the Sharks’ roster do, which accounts for the fact that he’s only ever played one full season (2009-10). Clowe is known for an all-out playing style and has registered over 100 hits for each of the last three years. He’s also willing to drop the gloves.
Clowe suffered a facial fracture and concussion early in 2012, but still finished with 76 games this past season. He’s been known to have a high pain threshold and play through anything and everything he can, which can either help or harm, but that kind of dedication is what so many feel the game of hockey is all about. FTF discounts the idea of the “intangible” aspect of a player’s value, arguing that stats are impacted by intangibles, but I still think there’s something to be said for a guy who won’t even let a bad bang on the head slow him down (even if that’s incredibly risky and not exactly smart).
Off the ice, Clowe is involved with a charity golf tournament, along with Teddy Purcell of the Tampa Bay Lightning, whose proceeds go to The City of St John’s R.E.A.L. fund, among other foundations. (Twitter account here.) He’s also been vocal about the ongoing CBA negotiations (or lack thereof) between the league and the NHLPA, as evidenced on his Twitter account and in online NHL news. Whether he’s voicing his own opinions or just going by what Don Fehr and the leaders of the PA are telling him remains to be seen, but it’s still noteworthy. Most recently, he’d been practicing with the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL, though it’s not clear whether he’ll actually play for them or not.
Overall, Ryane Clowe has the qualities of a leader, without being overtly recognized for it by the rest of the league. At 29 years old, he still has a few years to go, but for now, he’s an unsung hero.