Will Rich Clune heed the NHL's warning? (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

NHL Fines Nashville Predators Forward Rich Clune

A few weeks ago Nashville Predators forward Rich Clune got his first NHL goal. This week he hit another milestone: his first NHL fine.

Clune was fined for a hit he put on Colorado forward Aaron Palushaj during Monday’s 6-5 loss to the Avalanche. During the game he was called for boarding and served two minutes in the penalty box.

This is the first time Rich Clune has been subject to supplementary discipline by the NHL. The maximum fine levied by the league against a first-time offender is $10,000 or half of one day’s salary, whichever is less. In Clune’s case it’s the latter, which comes out to $1,452.70. (If there’s a conclusion to be drawn from the size of the fine and the seriousness of the infraction, I’ll let you do the work yourself.)

Clune displayed this kind of reckless aggression during his earliest days with the Nashville Predators, who claimed him off waivers at the beginning of this season after he was dropped by the Los Angeles Kings. In fact, the first minor penalty he took as a Predator was a two-minute boarding minor on a very similar play against the St. Louis Blues’ Scott Nichol, back on January 21st.

In the past few weeks it seemed as if Rich Clune had cleaned his game up before the hit on Palushaj. He had become a fairly effective presence on Barry Trotz’ hard-forechecking fourth line and even scored a game-winning goal, the first of his career, against the Blues on February 5th. But there’s little doubt that this already dangerous play was made more dangerous by Clune’s approach to it:

What do you think? Is Clune likely to heed the warning given to him by the NHL for this play? If he does, can he be effective on the fourth line given that his natural style seems at odds with avoiding dangerous plays?

Tags: Nashville Predators Rich Clune

  • http://beautypersoni.livejournal.com Christopher-J Carlson

    While Nashville forward Rich Clune’s hit on Colorado’s Aaron Palushaj was flagrant, I don’t see Clune, like I don’t see Detroit’s Jordin Tootoo, as a truly reckless player. The main reason players like Clune and Tootoo are more likely to get fines or suspensions is that they are relentless checkers, and mistakes are bound to happen. (Not that those types of mistakes shouldn’t be punished. Fines and suspensions are needed to make sure players don’t truly become reckless.) Over a longer career, I expect the number of infractions against Clune, like Tootoo, to be below average compared to most players considered reckless, and deserving of the reputation. There are a number of players whose games involve little checking but who are truly reckless. Players who use their sticks as weapons, for example, and players that, when they do hit another player, they do so when they are in a vulnerable position, obviously intending to injure. Tenacious players like Clune and Tootoo rarely intend to actually injure an opponent, since they’re too busy simply checking their man then going to the next opponent. Tootoo, in fact, is a great example of a player that annoys a lot of opponents because, after delivering a number of solid but legal hits to a player, will skate away when that player decides to try and fight Tootoo. Tootoo isn’t being a coward in these cases, and he can hold his own in a fight; he simply knows when it’s worth it for himself and his team. He draws a lot of penalties from opponents this way, and this is why every team besides his own hates to play against him. Anyhoo…

    • http://predlines.com/ Jason Kirk

      There’s clearly a fine line that guys who take on this role have to tiptoe. I’m not saying that Clune is purely reckless – there’s not enough evidence for that, and indeed quite a bit against it. It’s just that his decision-making about how to approach his job has proven questionable on a few occasions already in a relatively small number of games. He doesn’t seem to have that same level of control that Tootoo had (as ironic as that sounds to say) when it came to dishing out hard checks in a clean manner.

      Best example: If you watch the replay of the hit on Palushaj, Clune hold his hands out immediately when he hears the whistle as if to say, “What? Me? Really?” He didn’t think the hit – which he left his feet to make, with his balance shifted so far that one leg flew to the side – was questionable while he was making it.

      The hit on Palushaj was nearly identical to the one on Nichol earlier in the season (which I know you and I have discussed previously), which leads me to believe he probably thought that hit was all right, too. I hope he reins himself in enough to stay effective as a hard-checking presence, because the team can use him there. But it might be too tough a balancing act for him.

      • http://beautypersoni.livejournal.com Christopher-J Carlson

        I was imagining the team lying to him about when he needs to take off the half-mask, so he can get more practice working on his all-around game. LOL! But, maybe he’d get more reckless with it on, seeing how he’s not expected to fight. BUT, I’m wondering if, when it does come off, he makes too much of a turn back to fighting. He’s still a young guy, but if anybody can mold him into a proper player it’s Trotz’s crew. Also, in the picture above in this article, who’s the chubby little kid in the Blackhawks jersey Clune’s beating on? LOL! Anyhoo…

        • http://predlines.com/ Jason Kirk

          Did you see the hit Clune put on Ian White in tonight’s game? It was borderline; he got two minutes where some other players might not have. (Detroit fans blew up over it on Twitter.) Did the refs take into consideration that he was just fined by the league a few days before? Hard to think they didn’t. This is why I’m concerned about whether he can be effective – even if he isn’t a dirty player per se, officials who are constantly looking over their shoulders at the league aren’t going to be consistent enough for him to know where he stands.

          Oh, and I believe that’s Andrew Shaw in the picture. He’s 21 and it appears he still has some baby fat on him.

          • http://beautypersoni.livejournal.com Christopher-J Carlson

            I missed a lot of the game tonight entertaining my visiting sister and bro-in-law. I’m sure it’ll be up on YouTube soon enough, if not already. (Thankfully, I use a script which hides all YouTube comments, so I won’t have to read what the Wings fans have to say. LOL!) Next time Clune faces the Hawks without the half-mask, he should goad Shaw into instigating a fight by using the classic bully chant of “fatty-fatty-fat-fat”! Well, maybe not. Clune might find himself being roasted alive, what with the current anti-bullying movement going on. He’d be the NHL’s new Sean Avery. LOL! Anyhoo…

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