'I Just Can't Imagine Him Not Being With The Flyers'

Posted: April 17, 1990

Naturally, there was some shock. And disbelief. Still, several Flyers who played with or for Bob Clarke said they could sense something like this was about to occur.

Most of all, they find it difficult to envision the franchise without him.

"I am (surprised), and I'm not," said Bob Taylor, a former teammate and current Flyers radio broadcaster. "I knew there were some changes coming at the end of the season. I just can't imagine him not being with the Flyers."

"I don't know what goes on behind the scenes," said Mark Howe, another ex-teammate and employee. "It's obvious the Sniders (owner Ed and president Jay) thought this was necessary. I'm sure this is only the beginning of things to come . . . When you mention Bob Clarke, you mention the Flyers in the same breath. They're one and the same. That's the way the media have made it out, and the way the Flyers have portrayed it.

"I've seen things like this happen to my dad (Gordie) when he retired. It's unpleasant, but things change."

Added Tim Kerr: "As a player, he taught me a lot. As a general manager, he's always been there for me. With all the (injury) problems I've been through, he never pressured me."

Bill Clement, in Edmonton working as the color analyst for the broadcast of the Oilers-Winnipeg Jets NHL playoff game on SportsChannel America, had this to say about his former teammate:

"I wear a couple of Stanley Cup rings, and everyone in the organization knows that wouldn't have been possible without Bobby Clarke," Clement told WIP radio's Rob Charry. "It's been such a given, and assumed for so many years, that Bobby would just be around. It's really sad, you know.

"I think anybody that saw Bobby Clarke play, and had the chance to meet him, knows that he cares more about winning hockey games for the Philadelphia Flyers, almost more than he did about life itself. At the same time, you have to realize this is one of the hard truths about pro sports. That's the hardest part to sink in.

"There's such a price to winning, so many hours and sacrifices, you almost become the game. It seems inordinate, that losing even carries a higher price tag. It comes (down) to your job. I know it had to be a real tough decision for Jay (Snider) to make. Gosh, Bobby Clarke is the Flyers. But there's only one thing the Flyers settle for, and that's winning. If you don't win, it shows you that nobody is immune to being let go.

"I know one of the biggest shocks to Bob must have been, going from an existence that's black and white, to one where the color gray is a constant colorization of what you're doing. There's fewer absolutes as a GM than there are as a player. You can't hope to go out there and win each trade, win each contract (negotiation). That must have seemed a little different to him. But I know one thing, that Bobby Clarke hasn't done anything in his life that he didn't try his best at, that he wouldn't give everything, to be successful. Now, I want him to do whatever's best for Bob. It's hard to say (what that might be). But if there's one thing he learned as a GM, it's when you get emotional about something, not to make any decision right away."

comments powered by Disqus