Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wendel Moment #3 - The Bruce Bell Hit

On November 22, Wendel Clark's #17 will be raised to the rafters as the team honours its former captain and arguably the most popular player in franchise history.

In the lead up to that night, Down Goes Brown will feature a countdown of Wendel's Top 17 Greatest Moments.

Wendel Clark threw a lot of devastating body checks in his career. A lot.

For example, this one and this one and this one and this one and... well, you get the idea.

So if your name is Bruce Bell and you're on the receiving end of what everyone agrees is "easily the most devastating Wendel Clark body check ever", well, you can just go ahead and assume that things aren't going to work out very well for you.

Warning: Do not let small children watch the clip below.

This hit, from the 1986-87 season, did two things:
  1. Sent official notice to the rest of the league that this Wendel Clark kid in Toronto was scary as hell
  2. Effectively ended the career of Bruce Bell
That last part is actually sort of sad, since unlike most Wendel victims Bell wasn't guilty of anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once considered a promising offensive defenceman, Bell was never the same after this check and was out of the NHL within a few years.

Three things to enjoy about this clip:
  • Notice how Bell never, ever looks up to see the hit coming. The story, possibly apocryphyl, goes that Blues goalie Greg Millen was yelling "You're fine, you're good, all clear" right up until impact. Further proof that nobody should ever listen to anything Millen says concerning the Maple Leafs.

  • The way Charlie Bourgeois shows up and reluctantly drops his gloves, until Wendel points down at Bell and Bourgeois backs off. Most people assume Clark says something along the lines of "Hey, we can't fight, this guy needs medical attention". I like to imagine that he actually said "You're next".

  • The old-school stretcher treatment. I'm all for players having access to the best possible medical care, but I really think we need to go back to the days when players carried the stretchers themselves.
So there you have it -- the biggest Wendel Clark hit of all-time. That, my friends, is called getting your Bell rung!

(If by "Bell", you mean "internal organs" and by "rung", you mean "liquified".)


  1. I like to imagine that he actually said "You're next".

    It's not imagination.

    Seriously, if you told me that Bell died because all of his internal organs explode at impact I'd believe you.

    I know that Orland Kurtenblog did a "hockey's hardest hit" contest and that stupid Larry Robinson hit along shitty boards was doing well but that to me is the hardest hit in the history of hockey. It's tough to tell but I don't think he hit him in the head and he knocked him out cold.

    Further proof that nobody should ever listen to anything Millen says concerning the Maple Leafs.

    Kids, there's your lesson. Aside from don't touch the puck when Wendel is on the ice.

  2. Wow. Millen is an idiot. He's completely looking the wrong way. Even if he isn't saying "all clear", that's what his body language is telling Bell. Millen has no idea where Clark is until after the hit.

    Bourgeois is the real culprit here though. Wendel skates right by him and he does nothing to slow him down or to warn Bell of the impending doom.

    Bell (to Bourgeois): Why didn't you do something?

    Bourgeois: What could I do? It looked like he'd killed you.

    Bell: No, I mean, before the hit. Why didn't you try to slow him down by getting in his way?

    Bourgeois: Well, I thought, better you then me.

  3. If Earth is ever discovered by extra-terrestrial intelligences, it will be because they followed the trail of shockwaves _still_ emanating from this hit.

    My guess is that primitive, superstitious lifeforms somewhere near the Sirius systsm are forming doomsday religions, foretelling the day when a jealous, displeased Wendel Clark similarly body checks non-believers.

  4. Poor Bruce Bell.

    I also notice Wendel didn't LEAP into the hit like so many young punks think they have to do nowadays. As well, there was no deliberate targeting of the head. That was only necessary in fights.

    It was simply speeding object colliding with immovable force.

  5. Great post. Wendel deserves it.

    Your friends at

  6. From the World Junior Championships in Finland, Dec 23 1984 - January 1 1985.

    Canada’s last game was against Czechoslovakia, and because of a better goals for/against figure, Canada knew going into the game a tie would mean gold.

    The key to success was Wendel Clark. Clark delivered the most famous hit in the history of the tournament when he hammered Soviet defenceman Mikhail Tatarinov out of consciousness, the game, and the tournament. Coach Terry Simpson had converted Clark, a defenceman with Saskatoon, to a forward, but in this game against the Czechs, he put Wendel back on defence for the first two periods because of injuries to his blue line corps. In the third, he gambled again and put Clark up on the wing, and it was Clark who tied the game for Canada at 13:43 of the third to ensure a tie and the gold medal.