In his new autobiography “Bleeding Blue: Giving My All for the Game,” Wendel Clark reflects on his first year of junior hockey with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League. What impressed Clark so much was that he had his own hockey trading card and his own poster to sign for fans at autograph sessions. However, something about the poster wasn’t quite right, as Clark explains in his book:
From the very beginning, the Blades felt like a step up from the [Saskatoon AAA Notre Dame] Hounds. In my first year, there were hockey cards of us, sponsored by the Saskatoon Police. And Shell Oil printed up full-page hockey posters that would be inserted into our game programs. At each home game, the program would have an insert of a different player, with a space at the bottom for our signatures, which we would fill in during team-sponsored autograph sessions. I couldn’t wait to see myself featured on this insert. But when I finally got my hands on one of the programs, someone pointed out a problem: the printer had spelled my name wrong. There I was, wearing a big smile and my Cooperall pants, and my last name was spelled with an e at the end — Clarke. I couldn’t believe it. I had seen my first name, Wendel, spelled wrong all the time, but I’d never seen someone spell Clark wrong before. Apparently, Clarke was the Catholic spelling, but I wasn’t Catholic. Then it sank in: it was the 1980s, and the biggest Clark back then was Bobby Clarke, the pride of Flin Flon, Manitoba, a hockey legend so famous that he even influenced the makers of youth hockey cards. When I realized that, I just shrugged and said, “I haven’t made it yet, so of course they can’t spell my name right.” [from “Bleeding Blue,” pages 37-38]
Fortunately for Clark, his name was spelled correctly on his Saskatoon Blades trading card that year, as well as his team poster for the next season.
Wendel Clark’s autobiography, “Bleeding Blue,” is available now. You can read the review of it here and order a copy of it online here. ■