In the lead up to that night, Down Goes Brown will feature a countdown of Wendel's greatest moments. We've gone through all the goals, hits and fights. Since the original plan of running a top 17,000 Wendel Moments series seems slightly over-ambitious, we've narrowed it down to a Top 17.
Today we kick off the list with a fitting first moment.
Wendel Moment #17 - The Leafs pick Clark first overall in the 1985 draftThe Leafs found themselves with the first overall pick in 1985 for the first and only time in the modern era. They narrowed their choices down to winger Craig Simpson and defenceman Wendel Clark.
The Leafs were no doubt leaning towards Simpson since this was the Ballard era and they screwed everything up, but luckily he publicly refused to play for the Leafs. So instead of being drafted by Toronto, living in the greatest city in the world and having a shot at becoming a hero to Leaf Nation, Simpson went second overall and played in Pittsburgh, Edmonton and Buffalo. Good call, Craig!
So instead the Leafs turned to Clark, a Kelvington farmboy who patrolled the blueline for the WHL's Saskatoon Blades. The scouting report on Clark was that he wasn't especially big and didn't skate well, but was a ferocious hitter with a laser wrist shot, an unmatched work ethic and a wicked-awesome mullet. Called a "throwback" by Blades fans, Clark seemed like the perfect choice to try to lead the Leafs out of the WAHL darkest days in franchise history.
The Leafs converted Clark to the wing, and set him loose on the NHL. The rest is history... and we'll be counting down the best of that history in the days leading up to November 22.