He arrived in Music City less than a month into the club’s inaugural season, and Cliff Ronning, with his magical stick-handling skills and vision, was the source of much of the club’s offense in its first four seasons. He led the team in scoring in each of those years (1998-2002), establishing then-franchise highs in points (226), goals (81) and assists (145) in 301 games. The popular 5-8, 165-pounder was a fixture on the Nashville power play and often skated beside hard-working goal-scorer Patric Kjellberg.
“Our goal was always to get to the playoffs, and we obviously didn’t get to them when I was there, but we were kind of up against the odds most nights and we weren’t expected to win,” Ronning recently said when reflecting on his time in Nashville. “I have kind of fit into that underdog role all my life playing hockey – I was always too small. I thought our team competed very well and I think we played a very entertaining style of hockey that wasn’t boring to watch.
For myself, I was there to help develop young talent, and now you see those guys doing real well. If you could show them that if you work hard good things will happen, they would do it – I think that was kind of my role there, to show them how hard you have to work,” he added.
Ronning retired from hockey following the 2003-04 season having amassed 869 regular-season points in 1,137 games for St. Louis, Vancouver, Phoenix, Nashville, Los Angeles, Minnesota and the New York Islanders. He now resides in his hometown of Burnaby, B.C., working as a hockey stick representative for Warrior Hockey company.