Work in Sports
Wen and Stumpy
Thomas, bench left buzzing about the Clark of old
Posted: Thursday April 27, 2000 01:16 AM
By Lance Hornby, SLAM! Sports
KANATA, Ont. -- The Wendel and Stumpy Show is 15 years old, but still a Maple Leafs crowd pleaser.
With a combined age of almost 70, Wendel Clark and Steve Thomas had as big a role last night for Toronto as they did in their first playoff battle, an upset of the Chicago Blackhawks in the spring of 1986.
If this is their swan song in Toronto, they seem intent on making the most of it, at least into May.
Thomas had one goal and one assist last night as the Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-2 to capture the NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final in six games. Clark, 33, had a thundering check on his first shift and later scored his franchise-leading 34th playoff goal.
"He showed me the Wendel of old," Thomas said. "He took the man out with emphasis and scored a huge goal."
Thomas has 11 goals in the past 13 games including regular season.
"I feel like I'm 26," the 36-year-old said.
But it was the intangible Clark magic that spread itself through the Leafs bench in Games 5 and 6. He had not played much toward the end of the season, but it was almost inevitable he would get a chance to finish his Leafs career on a high.
"I always knew, and I still know, I can play," Clark said. "By far I'm not finished. A couple of guys in Dallas are 40 [or close to it]. I still have a long way to go."
Clark also is $50,000 US richer today because the series win triggered a bonus.
Tie Domi, the third Leaf on the roster to have at least two stints with Toronto, said he "couldn't describe the emotion" when Clark made it 4-2 last night.
"He hadn't been playing but he bit the bullet," Domi said. "That's what we got him for -- to score the big goals."
Added Thomas: "What would be really satisfying is if we could finish what we started together and skate around the ice holding that silver cup together."
General manager/coach Pat Quinn, already laid low by a cold, was exhausted after last night's game.
"Sometimes our Achilles heel is also our strength," Quinn said of the Leafs' bold attacks. "I'm sure the opposition is reflecting that they didn't stop [the Thomas-Mats Sundin-Jonas Hoglund line]."