If there is any one moment in Chris Clark's hockey career that defines what type of a player he is, it has to be his grisly injury in 2006. A puck was deflected into his mouth, knocking out two teeth and crushing his palate bone.
Nobody would have blamed Clark for lying on the ice, writhing in pain and waiting for the trainers to assist him. But that's not what Clark did. Instead, he covered his face with his gloves and continued to skate his shift.
"That's one of the most courageous things you'll see on the rink. So the next time someone has a runny nose, or feels under the weather and doesn't think they should play, that should make them think twice," General Manager George McPhee told the Washington Post.
Clark's injury has earned him the nickname "Captain Cadaver" amongst fans, for the cadaver bone that was surgically implanted to replace his palate bone. To some fans, Chris Clark defines the Washington Capitals and what they strive to be: a competitive, tough, never-give-up type of team that you can count of to give 100% every game.
The only problem is Clark hasn't been able to give 100% every night since the 2006-2007 season. In his last two seasons, Clark has only dressed for 50 games with six goals, 15 points and a minus three.
Now Clark will find himself in the same position he was in last year: watching at home, recovering and hoping to return late in the playoffs. On Jan. 31, Chris Clark was placed on injured reserve for a season-ending wrist surgery.
Despite Clark's low numbers over the past two seasons, nobody has questioned his role as team captain but, with the playoffs looming, many wonder if it is time to pass the "C" on to another player for the time being.
Who could possibly replace Chris Clark as captain though? Alex Ovechkin does come to mind, but when you think of who was the team's cornerstone during their doomed 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons, Chris Clark has always been the go-to-guy when the team needed leadership.
Despite Clark's absence from the Capitals' late-season run to the playoffs last season, his work ethic and leadership may have been a key factor in the Capitals success. Instead of having one Chris Clark on the ice, the Capitals now have multiple Chris Clark's giving 100% every night who strive to exceed the standard he has set.
If you can look past the stat line, look past the injuries and look at Chris Clark as an example of what hard work and sacrifice are, then you'd agree that the Capitals will be miss Clark's leadership on the ice for the remainder of the season.
Here's to a speedy recovery, Chris.