Return to article indexKim Clackson Adds A Touch ... A Crunch Along The Boards
By Susan Nicol
The Winnipeg Jets have been together as a winning unit for some time now with a few changes in personnel. Usually, a newcomer is spotted easily on the ice because of "Jet Lag" if he isn't as fast as the others or because of defensive lapses that come with playing for an offensive club.
If a rookie doesn't stand out immediately, it's usually a credit to him, and number 5 is one such newcomer. The fans in the Winnipeg Arena have scrambled for their programs only when a resounding crunch has been heard along the boards. They have nodded with approval when they have discovered the hard-hitting new defenseman in Kim Clackson.
Kim admits his ability to hit is one of the reasons the Jets signed him.
"I play an aggressive brand of hockey", he says. "The Jets are expecting me to be an aggressive, as well as defensive, defenseman."
Playing strictly defensive is not always easy, especially when the rest of the team isn't. But Kim hasn't found the adjustment a difficult one to make.
"The Jets play more of a European style than I'm used to, especially the way they come out of their own end," he says. "But hockey is hockey."
Since Kim has played against the Jets for two years as an Indianapolis Racer, he feels he knows the club and its style fairly well.
"I had a pretty good idea of the team before I came. They're a high-scoring, very aggressive club." He quickly adds, "Not that they're physically aggressive. They're a goal-hungry aggressive hockey team."
He says there are advantages and disadvantages to the Jets' style, especially where defensemen are concerned.
"Their skating style is one of the best. When you're on such a high-scoring team, it's nice to have that advantage. You've got the forwards who are going to get you the goals."
However, he adds, "I think Larry Hillman is making the team a lot more defensive than the previous coach did. That's good, because if you look at other teams, like the Montreal Canadiens, they're checking teams. They've got the forwards and the defensemen to move the puck quickly. They can break for the openings and score goals when the occasions arise."
As far as Kim is concerned, the change is for the better.
"I would like to see our team be a little more defensive ... being a defenseman. It helps my job a lot. But we've forwards here who are very offensive-minded," he says. "I think Larry is doing a little bit here and there to change things."
Much has been said about the training camp this year, although Coach Hillman believes it was a success. Kim has mixed feelings about it.
"I think we should have practised a little more," he says. "But that's pretty hard when you have to play that many games. It was good to get over there and see Sweden. I appreciated the chance."
Larry Hillman had said he was pleased with the condition of most of the players in training camp. Kim doesn't believe he was part of that group.
"I could have showed up in better shape than I did," he says, "but I wasn't expecting to come to camp that early. I was expecting to come two or three weeks later than the time it actually started."
His former club, the Indianapolis Racers, has the distinction in the WHA of having the most enthusiastic fans and the best-attended games. For this reason, he hasn't noticed any great change in fan support since he's joined the Jets. If anything, Winnipeg fans are more subdued.
"Indianapolis has really rabid fans. They were good for two goals a game at home. But I think that's an exception where American hockey cities are concerned."
He's looking forward to the pending trip to Japan in December, although it may prove costly as the trip to Izvestia last year.
"I'd like to see Japan like everyone else on this team," he says. "I don't think it's actually going to help us, but that remains to be seen. The last trip didn't bother me that much. It does bother some guys, some it doesn't."
So far, Kim Clackson enjoys being a Jet.
"They've got good morale here. It's a winning hockey club and it's great to be a part of it."