Clarke, in an interview with reporters last night, said the team had "made a mistake" by not adding Tibbetts' name to its AHL playoff roster March 21. Had the Flyers done that, Tibbetts could have gone to the Phantoms, who open the Calder Cup playoffs tonight.
The GM insisted that Tibbetts, who had come here with a criminal record that included rape and assault-and-battery convictions, "wasn't a problem."
"He did everything he was supposed to do," Clarke said, meaning that Tibbetts regularly attended anger-management meetings that the Flyers set up for him.
Tibbetts had 69 penalty minutes and one assist in nine games for the Flyers and was minus-3. Two weeks after joining the team, he was suspended for two games after getting his third penalty for instigating a fight.
"Rather than fool around and keep him hanging around, we thought it was better to go with the five we have," Clarke said. "Once we got Adam Oates, we had five centermen, and they are all healthy now - other than [Jiri] Dopita. . . . We thought it was better for the team. When we made the deal for Tibbetts, that was before we got Oates."
Clarke said Tibbetts understood the situation, "but he wasn't happy."
Tibbetts, 27, came to the Flyers from Pittsburgh for 30-year-old center Kent Manderville. Clarke said that if he had not made the trade, Manderville would have been the odd man out in the playoffs.
The difference? Manderville had a year remaining on his contract, and Tibbetts will be a free agent this summer.
"We thought that Billy was a better player than Kent, and he is a more talented player for us, but the situation just didn't work out for him," Clarke said.
Could the Flyers have gotten a draft pick, instead of Tibbetts, for Manderville?
"Pittsburgh never offered us a draft pick, only a player," Clarke said.
The general manager said his priority this summer regarding his centers will be to re-sign Oates, who will be an unrestricted free agent.
Dopita missed last night's game with further inflammation in his right knee. The Flyers called up left winger Guillaume Lefebvre from the Phantoms and sent down Todd Fedoruk.
Loose pucks. Team psychologist Dana Sinclair was with the team yesterday for the final time to work with the players before they start the postseason. . . . Clarke underwent jaw surgery to correct a problem with his teeth. He woke up yesterday with a black left eye. Did Tibbetts hit him? "No, I don't fight anymore," Clarke said, laughing. . . . Defenseman Eric Desjardins and right winger Rick Tocchet, both suffering from lower back strain, missed the game.
Contact Tim Panaccio at 215-854-2847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.