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Clarke was picture of determination with Flyers

Longtime center's passion, dedication helped Philadelphia win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships

by Stan Fischler / Special to

NHL Memories: Bobby Clarke

Fischler discusses Bobby Clarke's hard-nosed impact

Stan Fischler reflects on the career of Flyers legend Bobby Clarke, who led the franchise to two Stanley Cups and defined the word "competitor"

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Legendary hockey reporter and analyst Stan Fischler is writing a weekly scrapbook for this season. Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," will share his knowledge, humor and insight with readers each Wednesday. Once a month, he will let a picture from his vast collection do the talking in his "Picture is Worth 100 Words" feature.

Today, he offers a look at Hockey Hall of Fame center Bobby Clarke.

The Philadelphia Flyers became the first team from the 1967 expansion to win the Stanley Cup when they defeated the Boston Bruins in the 1974 Final. They proved that was no fluke by repeating a year later, this time defeating the Buffalo Sabres.

Neither victory would have been possible without Philadelphia's fearless captain, Bobby Clarke. As the photo indicates, the native of Flin Flon, Manitoba, played the game with a passion and dedication rare among athletes in any sport. On top of all that, he had to deal with the fact that he was a diabetic.

As for Clarke's significance to the team, teammate Dave Schultz summed it up concisely when he said, "Bobby was the heart and soul of our club."

Tenacity and determination helped Clarke compensate for his medical issues. Those qualities also helped account for the fact that he was voted the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in 1973, 1975 and 1976.

Video: Bobby Clarke led Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cups

Though Clarke lacked the skating skills of a Bobby Orr and wasn't gifted with a booming shot, he made the most of what he had. "Guts is what Bobby had in abundance," said defenseman Larry Zeidel, an original member of the Flyers in 1967-68 who later became a regular spectator at the Spectrum as Clarke's career took off. "He was one of a kind -- Mr. Philadelphia Hockey."

In 1974-75 and 1975-76, Clarke led the NHL in assists with 89 each time. He also led in playoff assists in both years with 12 and 14, respectively.

Clarke retired in May 1984 and was named general manager. The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final in two of his first three seasons as GM but failed to win each time; quite possibly because there was no Bobby Clarke in orange and black on the ice, making life miserable for opponents.

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