Sunday, October 22, 2006
Bob Clarke: The Villain is Vanquished!
So, I go off for the weekend for a seminar/exile and hell freezes over as Bobby Clarke resigns from the Flyers (and Albert Hitchcock gets fired). Go figure that I’d miss all the freakin’ fun! :(
Shedding any tears for ol’ Bobby? Yeah, me neither. Don’t worry; Bobby Clarke doesn’t care, right? He’s got no feelings and no heart, so there’s no use losing any sleep over his lack of employment at the present moment.
I’m just amazed that it happened so soon. Clarke has survived like a cockroach in a Mexico City slum, letting his coaches take the fall for him and getting a lifetime of free passes from Ed Snider, his Daddy Warbucks-with-attitude.
Snider, however, said he never considered replacing Clarke and was caught off guard by his general manager's decision.
"Bob Clarke has been the heart and soul of the Flyers for nearly 40 years," Snider said in a statement. "Bob was the driving force behind our Stanley Cups as a player, and as president and general manager, he built the Flyers into one of the premier franchises in hockey. I will always think of Bob as the Ultimate Flyer and there is always a position within our organization for Bob Clarke."
That quote was ultimately the problem for the Flyers. Snider was so enamoured with Clarke as THE Philadelphia Flyer that he was willing to overlook so much stuff that other owners would never let their GM’s get away. Clarke was hardly accountable for his actions or activities and you wonder if Snider would ever fire Clarke. At worst, Clarke may have been ‘demoted’ a VP job or something like that.
Well, Clarke is gone and we can reflect back on the departure of one of the more despised characters in the game and one who represents a very ‘old school’ style of thinking.
Really, Clarke is just so easy to hate. Look at the comments in the TSN.ca story! It’s got almost 300 postings as of late Sunday night, and most aren’t wishing him happy travels. Clarke managed his club much like he played. He was arrogant, he was an asshole, and he was cut-throat. Clarke would slice his mother open for her kidneys to sell on the Chinese black market if it meant he could win a Stanley Cup. Most of all, he didn’t give a rat’s ass what YOU or I thought about him, pretty much daring or asking you to hate him. It’s as if he enjoyed playing the bad guy role, much as Sean Avery does. The whole Ryan Kesler scenario was pretty much Bobby Clarke in a shell’s nut.
I’ll have to give Bobby Clarke SOME credit for his work with the Flyers. Yes, he had lots of resources and lots of $’s to play with, but the Flyers were consistently a strong team under his watch. The Flyers had some damn fine contending teams for a period and were always in the mix when it came to picking favourites from the Eastern Conference.
Clarke’s drafting record in the past few years has also been quite excellent. The Flyers have quite a load of young talent. While Clarke isn’t the main scout, the GM is ultimately responsible for the drafting and development of talent and Clarke’s record is pretty good. Plucking out players like Simon Gagne and Justin Williams later in their draft’s first round is just one example.
OK, now it’s time to butcher the assclown. (Sorry to the real assclowns I insulted with that statement. Bob Clarke is much worse than thou)
1. “Old School” Management – Bobby has an amazing inability to manage people, show any decent level of compassion and understanding of human emotions, and establish good relationships. Calling Roger Nielsen’s behaviour ‘goofy’, when he was suffering from the effects of cancer, telling others to kiss his ass, and so forth only made his job harder. Despite what Clarke thinks, establishing bad relations with others does not help the Flyers achieve organizational goals.
How can Bob Clarke expect to make trades, have a good working relationship with his coaches and league officials if he’s so unconcerned about relationships? Do you think Clarke’s ways hindered his ability to make deals? Probably. Do you think his head coach’s really felt secure and felt like they could trust their GM to work together to build a certain type of team? Unlikely. The whole Hitchcock/Clarke scenario seems to make it like the two were very disconnected. This type of management may have worked very well in 1930, but it’s not going to work well in today’s world.
2. Goaltending – I won’t go over this for the 1,000th time, but any GM putting their marbles into Rebound Machine’s hat is asking for bad things to happen. Poor JVB and Roamin’ Cechmanek got jobbed by the Flyers mediots and fangirls, so Clarke shouldn’t be butchered for those two. Still, Clarke’s tenure has been characterized by his inability and unwillingness to get a bonafide #1 goaltending to solve the one issue that plagued the Flyers the most during his tenure.
3. “Old School” talent evaluation. Let’s face it, the Flyers gambled on the New NHL being like the Old NHL (Yes, I am using those terms and I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think) and Jes Gőlbez asking any hot chick out on a date. Derian Hatcher is slow and clumsy that he makes Gheorghe Muresan look like a frickin’ ballerina. Trading for an old, declining Petr Nedved and acquiring Brian Savage Garden to provide a playoff boost were sad, desperate moves that worked out as well Bush’s plan to secure peace in Iraq.
So, Clarke is finally gone and they can move ahead into the modern world perhaps. Does this make the Flyers less easy to hate? Sure. I loved the fact that Clarke ran the Flyers into the ground enough to make them a hated ‘power’ in the East. He was always one of the primary reasons why I’d rather wear lighted gasoline than a Flyers sweater to a bar mitzvah, so it takes some out of the fun out of hockeydom.
As for Alfred Hitchcock, he’s a good coach and he’ll get another NHL job eventually. It was obvious that the Flyers were a dysfunctional club off of the ice thanks to Clarke’s roster management, but we know the coach has a large role in team chemistry. On the ice, it was very obvious that the Flyers were dysfunctional. A coach has real control over how the team players and his players lacked more fundamentals Martin Brochu’s goaltending style. It’s no shock that he’s gone early; only that Bob Clarke went at the same time.
PS: Thanks to those who responded to my post below. I'll be getting to work on your links and suggestions during the week.
The Carolina Hurricanes