He's spent years riding busses in hockey metropolises like Fredricton, Orlando and Hershey. He was so vital to his original club - the Canadiens - that they let him go in the 1999 expansion draft. He was so valuable to the team that took him in that draft - the Trashers - traded him for an AHL backup (Frederic Cassivi). At the time of the lockout, the 27-year old defenseman had more IHL games in the decade than NHL games. His future was not exactly bright.
But he stuck with it. In the fall of 2005, he impressed enough people to make the team out of camp, and went on to play 80 games with only Rob Blake garnering more ice time. Last year, Clark was the team's best defensemen over the course of the season and the Avalanche have rewarded him with a big extension - the Denver Post is reporting the contract is 2 years at $3,500,000 a season. And fans are going nuts over it.
Do I think that's a lot of money? Yes. Is he worth it? Maybe. But, here's the thing - in case you hadn't noticed, even average defensemen in this league are getting rich. Clark is not average. He blocks shots, he can move the puck, he has a deceptive - and underused - outlet pass, and he plays intelligently. He doesn't run over people and doesn't have a cannon for a shot, which seems to be the two criteria that most people use to gauge blueliners. Brett Clark is a tremendous, versatile asset to have on the team. I don't think people realize just how much he means to the team. I'll take re-signing him at a higher-than-I'd like salary over losing him to free agency next summer any day of the week. Most of all, I'm happy to see a nice guy who has worked hard getting his just reward. Finally.