Bob Clarke

Breaking down tribute video of Bob Clarke's path to greatness, Flyers history

Breaking down tribute video of Bob Clarke's path to greatness, Flyers history

If you’re anything like me, this necessary increase in social distancing has directly correlated with a rise in YouTube consumption time. It truly is a treasure trove of magnificent entertainment. I certainly recommend visiting the NBC Sports Philadelphia YouTube channel when you have a chance.

So while we wait for the live games to come back, I thought we could sift through some Philly YouTube treasures together. Here’s one of my favorites: the tribute video from Bobby Clarke Night.

This was played on Arenavision at the Spectrum on Nov. 15, 1984. Clarke retired the previous season and immediately became the team’s general manager.

So let’s break this video down:

• 0:00-0:17 — Slow pan up on a photo of a young Robert Earle Clarke, which the name graphic makes clear for anyone that might have been confused by who was being honored on Bobby Clarke Night. Clarke properly attired for winter in Manitoba.

0:20 — We get a glimpse inside the dressing room of the Flin Flon Bombers, Clarke’s junior hockey team circa 1968, and we find out our music choice for this video is Billy Preston’s “Never Gonna Say Goodbye.” So we’re off to an awesome start here.

0:30 — Some early Clarke-era Flyers video draws a reaction from the Spectrum faithful.

0:51 — We fast forward to some 70s Clarke video as he wears the largest captain’s “C” a uniform has ever seen. Hey, there’s a guy in a leather jacket and tie applauding. Classic looks on and off the ice.

1:00 — It took a minute but we have our first actual goal in this highlight compilation, albeit a less-than-thrilling tap-in against the Canadiens.

• 1:28 — The crowd roars as Clarke is shown being introduced as a member of Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series. Not surprisingly, Valeri Kharlamov was not invited to the festivities. 

• 1:45 — Another loud applause. This time for video of Clarke taking part in the warmup at an All-Star Game. Odd time to ramp up the cheering. But OK. Didn’t need much to get a mid 80s Flyers crowd going.

• 2:05 — So the second goal we see in this highlight video is the most important one in Flyers history: Clarke’s OT game-winner in Game 2 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final. If they don’t win that game, it’s very unlikely they win the Cup that year. And who knows what would happen the next year if they don’t win in ‘74?

• 2:18 — Immediate transition to Clarke and Bernie Parent skating the Cup around the Spectrum ice. Loudest applause so far. Then, it cuts to the last second or two of the following year’s Cup win with Clarke celebrating in the faceoff circle in Buffalo. For my money, this is one of the best hockey celebrations ever. Clarke, with arms raised, leaps twice and then practically marches back to celebrate in the crease.

• 3:00 — OK, I hate to keep harping on this but we’re at the three-minute mark and we’ve seen Clarke score two goals. It’s his career highlight video. He scored 358 regular-season goals. Feel free to sprinkle a few more in there. 

• 3:20 — WE GET ANOTHER GOAL! And it’s spectacular. Clarke scores from the seat of his pants in Detroit. For some reason, it’s SUUUUUUUPPPPPPPEEEEERRRRRRRR slo-mo. That’s followed by a not-quite-as-slow slo-mo on a breakaway goal against the North Stars. Up to four goals. I wonder if the slo-mos are so slow because this is when the editor realized “Never Gonna Say Goodbye” is a long song.

• 3:26 — The goals are coming fast and furious now. This one is the 300th of Clarke’s NHL career in a home game against the Red Wings. The highlight here? A priest in the crowd holding up three fingers to acknowledge the feat. Good hockey knowledge, Father.

• 4:07 — To borrow from comedian John Mulaney, this is where the video goes from good to great for me. Clarke takes a slap shot in the head, without a helmet mind you, from teammate Reggie Leach. Clarke’s knees hit the ice for about one-tenth of a second before the irresistible sense of pride that fuels Clarke forces him immediately back to his feet. We see blood pouring down Clarke’s face as future Hall of Famer Ray Bourque flashes in the background. Then, Clarke gives Leach a stick tap as if to say, “Keep those coming.” What a warrior.

• 4:22 — Next we see Clarke pick up his 1,000th career point in that very same game. You know, the one where he took a slap shot to the head. As we see the celebration of the goal, notice the blood all over Clarke’s sweater. Hockey player. Also, it’s a chance to enjoy Mel Bridgman’s old-school JOFA bucket.

• 5:06 — The video appropriately ends with the most famous shot of Clarke, his toothless grin in Buffalo following the second Cup victory as the crowd erupts in cheers.

Here are my final stats on this video:

• Five minutes, 24 seconds
• Seven goals, zero assists shown
• One ridiculously tough legend

A true masterpiece. So happy to have come across it.

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Franchise pillar Bob Clarke excited by Alain Vigneault, Chuck Fletcher and competitive Flyers

Franchise pillar Bob Clarke excited by Alain Vigneault, Chuck Fletcher and competitive Flyers

Bob Clarke didn't know Alain Vigneault personally before the bench boss arrived to Philadelphia.

He was cognizant of the head coach's previous stops, but that was the extent of his Vigneault knowledge.

"When he was working for other teams, I wasn’t paying attention to what he did," Clarke said. "I know he had lots of success."

Vigneault, a Jack Adams Award winner with two Stanley Cup Final appearances, meet Clarke, winner of two Cups, a Hall of Famer and the all-time greatest Flyer.

Oh to be a fly on the wall for those conversations.

Clarke, now a senior advisor for the Flyers, is not one to pump up his own value or insight. His interactions with Vigneault don't involve much earnestness or strategy.

He has watched the work of Vigneault and assistant coaches Michel Therrien, Mike Yeo, Ian Laperriere and Kim Dillabaugh.

“They don’t need me," Clarke said Friday in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "They’re really good, I get to sit down and bulls--t with them and talk hockey and stuff, ask questions. Not for any of their pleasure, but for mine. I’m lucky that I’m able to do that, I really enjoy it. But I’m not pretending that I’m any benefit to them.”

Amid the NHL's suspension of the 2019-20 regular season because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Flyers are sixth in the NHL at 41-21-7 and 89 points through 69 games, a point behind the first-place Capitals. Last season, the Flyers went 37-37-8 with 82 points, their fewest in a full season since 2006-07.

To begin his first offseason as Flyers general manager, Chuck Fletcher brought in Vigneault. Together, they hired Therrien and Yeo. The GM then got to work on the roster with the summer acquisitions of Kevin Hayes, Matt Niskanen, Justin Braun and Tyler Pitlick, while adding Derek Grant and Nate Thompson at the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Clarke, a mentor of Fletcher's, has been impressed by more than just his protégé's moves.

He’s done an incredible job. Equally as important, he’s included everybody in being part of the team. He talks to everybody and he asks questions and he listens. He’s the man making the decisions, but he allows everybody to express their own opinions, all those kind of things, and he listens.

In the end, the decisions he has made have been terrific. They’ve obviously strengthened [the team]. It’s gone from a club that would have struggled to make the playoffs to a team that’s fighting for top place — because of his additions, his biggest of course being Vigneault.

The 58-year-old head coach has incorporated a system that has cleaned up the Flyers' defensive issues while simultaneously making them the aggressor. The Flyers have a Metropolitan Division-best plus-36 goal differential, are allowing an NHL-low 28.7 shots per game and surrender 2.77 goals per game, down from 3.41 in 2018-19.

A byproduct of Vigneault's stylistic preference is a balanced group — not overly reliant on one or two players.

"I think he and his whole staff have done just an incredible job with making this into a team — and the players have benefitted," Clarke said.

"[Sean] Couturier has gotten better, [Ivan] Provorov, everybody has gotten better. [Jakub] Voracek, a top-end player, is a better player now than he was last year when he scored more points. I think [Claude] Giroux plays both ends of the rink now terrifically. He may not score as much, but I think he’s a better all-around player.

"It’s fun watching those guys, all these guys, getting better. The young players are developing. We’re in a position that we could be a good team for a long time.”

(Zack Hill, Philadelphia Flyers/USA Today Images)

Clarke, in his 48th season as a member of the organization, downplays his impact on the Flyers.

Much of that has to do with his faith in Fletcher's guidance of the team.

"I don’t think I’m a resource," Clarke said. "I talk with Chuck a lot and we talk hockey and everything else, but he’s been a general manager for a long time. I’m allowed to express my opinions and stuff like that, but I would never want to do anything to overstep my boundaries. 

"Everybody tries to win but they use different methods. Chuck’s method is one that includes everybody. He talks with everybody and he listens to everybody. He has to make his own decisions, he’s held responsible for the decisions he’s made, but he should also be given credit for the decisions, the coaching staff, the additions he’s made to our club on defense and then up front, at the trade deadline."

During the NHL's hiatus, the Flyers own a 99.7 percent chance to make the postseason and 30.5 percent chance to win the division, according to Hockey-Reference.com.

If/when the Stanley Cup Playoffs are held and if the Flyers earn a berth, could they go on a run?

“That’ll depend on the coaches and the players, that’s not for me to make any predictions," Clarke said. "But I don’t think we’re a team that anybody looks forward to playing against. [In the playoffs], if you’ve got to find somebody to play against, I don’t think that we’re the first choice anymore. We might’ve been at one time, but now I don’t think teams want to play us.”

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Bobby Clarke's former home, with incredible Flyers logo-shaped pool, is for sale

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realtor.com

Bobby Clarke's former home, with incredible Flyers logo-shaped pool, is for sale

Flyers fans, here’s the house of your dreams.

On this Memorial Day weekend, many in the area might be laying by the pool, but imagine laying by this pool.

If you’ve got $1.4 million and want to live in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, that can be your life.

This five-bedroom, five-bathroom home boasts, in the house description, that a former Flyer was once the owner. While it does not appear to be his current residence, Flyers legend Bobby Clarke has been quoted as saying he lived in this location, but moved after realizing the house was too private and he enjoyed having neighbors.

That’s good enough for me.

As for the house, it’s located in a private area of New Jersey and is just as beautiful on the outside. While the inside could use some updating, this could be the perfect project home for someone with a lot of cash. The backyard speaks for itself, with that tremendous pool, where you could party like it’s 1975, and tennis court. The inside also has tons of room for entertaining to go along with a beautiful kitchen and bedrooms with tons of closet space.

This home was, presumably, purchased by Clarke in 1982 for $350,000 and doesn’t appear to have had much work done on the inside. That being said, it looks like this house has incredible bones and could have the makings of something spectacular with a little elbow grease.

So, if you want to say you lived in the same house as an NHL Hall of Famer and have a pool that maybe even Gritty would come over for a dip in, this is the one for you.

Here are a few more photos from the listing.

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