This Bashing Of Clarke Has Got To Stop

In recent weeks (and months, for that matter) on this site I have read countless articles and comments that continually criticize Bob Clarke and the job he does for the Philadelphia Flyers.I haven’t written anything for this site for a long while, and there’s a reason for that. It seems to me that almost everyone on this site (owners and operators included) considers themself a de facto general manager of an NHL franchise. While it is all well and good to discuss possible trades, signings, and other moves amongst dedicated fans, there seems to be an attitude, nihlistic, almost, that permeates each and everyone’s opinion. It is beginning to get very tiresome.

Which brings me to Clarke. Personally, I grow weary of people on this site who have some deep-seeded disdain for him. Honestly, I don’t know where it comes from. Anyone who knows anything about Philadelphia hockey knows that Bob Clarke IS the Flyers. He is the son that owner Ed Snider wished he had. Anyone who thinks that Clarke is leaving Philadelphia for whatever reason is sorely mistaken. When Snider checks out it will be Clarke who takes his place, Big Ed said so himself. Love him or hate him, Clarke will be around for a long time.

But why hate him? Why are there people out there who want to get rid of him? Why is there some tool on this site with the chosen name “FlyersRuleClarkSucks?” (This guy can’t even spell Bob’s name right.) Look, we are all entitled to our own opinions. We all have the right to discuss our opinions in a public forum such as this one. However, I would only ask that you who read this please do not judge the man, or any general manager for that matter, until you have walked a mile in his shoes.

General managers in hockey, or any sport, have one of the hardest jobs out there. I don’t know all the specifics, because I’m not a GM. None of us are. Let me repeat that because it sounds vaguely important to my arguement. NOT ONE PERSON ON THIS SITE IS A GM. A GM has to:

– negotiate contracts with players and agents

– select a head coach and staff

– select a scouting department

– evaluate player talent

– rely on scouting reports on players and

potential prospects from all over the

world, not just the USA and Canada

– draft potential prospects

– negotiate trades with other GM’s

– work in conjunction with team ownership

– design an operating budget on salaries AND

team expenses

– deal with the local and national media

I’m sure I’ve left some other things out, but you get the point. Not one of us has to deal with all of the above-mentioned day-to-day duties. If there is someone on this site who does, I will gladly take some peanut butter with my toe jam.

Bob Clarke the player was an undersized and diabetic overachiever who won two Stanley Cups and made it into the NHL Hall of Fame. He came from a small town in the hinterlands of northwestern Canada. He is the son of a miner who went to work everyday to provide for the family. He had instilled in him a work ethic I believe very few possess, and has never let it go. Bob Clarke believed in team first, individual a distant second.

Bob Clarke the general manager has brought everything from his past to his present position. He works to improve his team by whatever means he can. The only thing that matters to him is his team and his team’s goal of winning a Stanley Cup. To that end this year he has assembled a strong and talented group of players for the present while amassing 14 picks in the upcoming entry draft.

There are few men who can be a general manager, and even fewer who can do a better job than Clarke. Sure, he has made mistakes in the past. Peter Zezel for Mike Bullard; Brian Propp and Dave Poulin for Kenny Linseman and cash; Mikael Renberg and Karl Dykhuis for Chris Gratton, etc. The Lindros debacle, the Roger Neilson debacle, the Wayne Cashman debacle, etc. Bob Clarke is, after all, human, and he is man enough to admit when he does wrong. You can put the puzzle pieces together, but you can’t make them skate and put the puck in the net. So, you go out and get new pieces, ones that fit, ones that work. Eric Desjardins and John LeClair for Mark Recchi; Mark Recchi for Dainus Zubrus; Kim Johnsson, Pavel Brendl, and Jan Hlavac for Eric Lindros; signing Jeremy Roenick; drafting Simon Gagne, Justin Williams, Ruslan Fedotenko, Brian Boucher, Roman Cechmanek. Hiring Bill Barber.

Right now he’s doing a great job. The Flyers are good. Real good. They will get better. And better. And better still in the years to come. Thanks to one man, Bob Clarke.

I expect comments. Good, bad, horrible, unintelligent, uninformed, insightful, whatever. Bring it on.

Here endeth the lesson.