When looking back at some of the best to ever play in the NHL, the names Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and Bob Clarke tend to be some of the first to come to mind. These are the players who have helped mold athletes and the NHL to what we know today.
Luckily for Philadelphia, the Flyers have one of the greats, and he is not only regarded as the best player in franchise history but also an ambassador to the sport as a whole.
March 19, 1981, is one of the more memorable dates for Clarke as he registered his 1,000th NHL point. This point, a goal, came in front of a home crowd at the Spectrum in the third period during a matchup against the Bruins. The Flyers wound up beating Boston, 5-3, but it’s the moments leading up to that milestone point that make it that much more memorable.
Even though the league began enforcing the wearing of helmets starting in June 1979, there was essentially a grandfather clause that allowed Clarke and other veteran players to continue without it. He probably wished he had one on earlier in this game when he took a slap shot to the head.
Shortly after, Clarke returned to the bench with a handful of stitches and a bloodied sweater. He was on a mission to put away the Bruins and did just that with a little help of Tim Kerr, who registered his first NHL hat trick on the same night.
Clarke had three more seasons with the Flyers and ended his career with 1,210 points total, a franchise record. Bill Barber comes in at second with 883, Brian Propp has 849 and Claude Giroux continues to nudge his way up the rankings and is currently fourth overall with 815. While Giroux still has a ways to go to top Clarke’s record, he's just 185 points away from being only the second member of the 1,000-point club with the Flyers.
For those who were not around during the era of the Broad Street Bullies and could not witness that moment of history, it’s an exciting time to be able to watch Giroux make this run — to witness their own bit of history for the Flyers.
Clarke’s number was officially retired by the organization in 1984, just one season after his career came to an end. That night will forever be remembered as “Bobby Clarke Night.”
He remains one of the most decorated players in team history, with two Stanley Cups. He's also a three-time Hart Trophy winner (1973, 1975 and 1976), winner of the Selke Trophy (1983), the Lester Patrick Award (1980) and the Masterton Trophy (1972).
In 2017, Clarke was on the NHL's list of the “100 greatest NHL Players." Other Flyers who made the list were Bernie Parent, Eric Lindros, Paul Coffey, Peter Forsberg, Jaromir Jagr, Adam Oates, Chris Pronger and Darryl Sittler.
His legacy is one that will live on forever as he helped pave the way for the NHL and hockey in Philadelphia for years to come.
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