Funny, fierce, and gritty, Bleeding Blue recounts every struggle and success of Wendel Clark’s rough-and-tumble journey to becoming one of hockey’s greatest heroes.
As a young boy growing up in Kelvington, Saskatchewan, Wendel Clark never dreamed of an NHL career. The pro league just seemed too far away from the young man’s small-town life in the Prairies. But Wendel had a talent for hockey that was surpassed only by his love for the sport, and it wasn’t long before he embarked on a path that would take him away from his hometown to a new life.
Wendel honed his talents in cities across western Canada and earned a reputation as a force to be reckoned with on the ice. Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs first overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, Wendel burst onto the pro scene and immediately made an impact, all the while staying true to his roots. As he learned from the players around him, Wendel steadily matured into a respected leader. He soon assumed the mantle as the Leafs captain, and his willingness to lay it all on the line transformed him into a player who could inspire courage in his teammates and fear in his opponents in equal measure. The future seemed limitless for the young star.
But just as Wendel’s talents were set to peak, everything unraveled. Years of no-holds-barred, physical play were taking their toll, and soon his greatest competitor wasn’t anyone on the ice, but his own body. Every movement brought agony, every shift was a challenge, and every game meant the decision to keep fighting. But as Wendel’s body broke down, his resolve only grew. Determined to succeed no matter what the cost, Wendel set out on a course that would allow him to keep doing what he loved and that would turn him into one of the most beloved hockey players of all time.
Emotional and uplifting, Bleeding Blue is the story of a man who refused to say no, who wore his heart on his sleeve, and who would do anything to keep going, even when everything told him to quit.
Wendel Clark was born and raised in Kelvington, Saskatchewan. Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs first overall in the 1985 NHL draft, Wendel set the Leafs record for goals by a rookie. He was named the seventeenth captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1991, and he played thirteen of his fifteen seasons in Toronto, where his leadership, scoring prowess, and physical play endeared him to fans. Still active in the Leafs organization today, Wendel also works with many charities and a number of corporations. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Denise, and three children, Kylie, Kassie, and Kody.
“For much of my playing career, I experienced just how dangerous it was to be on the ice against such a fierce competitor as Wendel Clark. Today, I’m thankful to be on the same team as Wendel with the Maple Leafs. Ask anyone who has met him and they will tell you that you’ll never meet a more humble and generous person in the game. Bleeding Blue is a great read on one of the Leafs' truly great players.”
– Brendan Shanahan, President and Alternate Governor, Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club
“You can take the kid out of the prairies, but you can't take the prairies out of the kid. With Wendel, what you see is what you get – he was as honest on the ice as he is off it. I always skated a little faster and held my head a little higher when #17 was on the ice.”
– Paul Coffey
"Knowing Wendel as teammate and a friend over the last 18 years, I've learned how much he loves the game of hockey. Competitive and humble in every way, he is a true Maple Leaf legend with a huge heart. I'm very fortunate to call Wendel a friend and teammate."
– Darcy Tucker
“Wendel’s style of play was pure and simple: shoot it, skate it, hit it hard. Prairie Canadian, through and through. He was one of the best of his time – he won’t tell you that, but I will. Read Bleeding Blue and you will get the picture. Wendel is as down to earth as they come, period.”
– Dale Hawerchuk
"Reading Bleeding Blue brought back a lot of fond memories for me. Being a young NHL player on the Maple Leafs in the mid-80’s during the Harold Ballard era was not always easy, but Wendel’s book reminds me of how much fun we had facing our adversity together."
– Jeff Jackson
"Clark's book is a celebration of home and game and how the two are entwined."