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Fanspeak: Clarke voted greatest Flyer in franchise history

Aug 20, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT

2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Alumni Game Getty Images

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Philadelphia Flyers

1. Bobby Clarke (994)

2. Bernie Parent (379)

3. Eric Lindros (368)

4. John Leclair (182)

5. Claude Giroux (108)

6. Bill Barber (101)

7. Mark Howe (79)

Fifteen seasons, three Hart Trophies, two Stanley Cups and an induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

That sentence is more than enough to explain why Bobby Clarke was the runaway winner as the greatest Flyer of all time. But it wasn’t just his on-ice exploits that endeared him to the Philly faithful — Clarke’s fearless attitude, gap-toothed grin and near-lifelong dedication to the franchise all contributed to him becoming Mr. Flyer.

Clarke’s essence was summed up during his jersey retirement ceremony in Philadelphia during the 2010-11 season, when former teammate Terry Crisp had this to say (per NHL.com):

“I’m always asked, ‘If you’re going to start a franchise, what player would you like to have?’ Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux? There’s one player in my mind and that’s Bob Clarke. To me, Bob Clarke was the ultimate warrior. When he played, there was only one way to play and that was to win … take no prisoners.

“A lot of guys today go into the locker room and mouth off and don’t back it up. When Clarkie stood up and was talking and preaching at you, he then went out and took it on the ice. If you’re going in a foxhole, you want Bobby Clarke in that hole with you.”

That approach carried over to Clarke’s life as a hockey executive as well. He spent 19 seasons as Flyers GM, leading the team to three Stanley Cup Finals but, perhaps most famously, wildly feuding with the No. 3 name on this list — Eric Lindros — in what became one of the most contentious hockey relationships of the last few decades.

Few players are more identified with their team than Clarke is with the Flyers. Fitting that he tops this list.

  1. sjsblitz - Aug 20, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Much respect.

    • 950003cups - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      Loved watching Clarke and his “bullies” make Team USSR run off he ice like little girls in the 1976 Flyers vs Red Army game, which prompted a call from Moscow to the Soviet players and the coach and basically let them know that if they want to ever see another paycheck or the sun ever again, they better go back out there. LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!

      It’s on the NHL Vault on Game Center. I love watching that game over and over!!

      Not bad for a kid from Flin Flon, Manitoba (yes, its a real place) who had been diagnosed with diabetes at 12 years old.

      • clarke16 - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Nice job, Dumb dumb. Egg roll must be working. We make more. No wait in lobby till bathe, though. Flies drive customer away! :)

  2. ibieiniid - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    thought Parent would have ended up closer than that. landslide

  3. milkmemalkin - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    I would think Eric Lindros would be more of a legend for banging Rod Brind’amours’ wife.

    • iwt5007 - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      I think Mario Lemieux would be more of a legend for keeping the Penguins from moving to Kansas City.

  4. 950003cups - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Looks like Flyer fans know their history a lot better than ranger fans know about their’s. Bobby Clarke is the correct choice.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:43 PM

      OK, let’s line up all the guys who fit the following criteria:
      Played since end of WWII,
      Served as captain of either NYR or Flyers,
      Was handed the Stanley Cup by prominent NHL official,
      Elected to HHoF.

      There have been numerous outstanding players for both franchises, but for the above rules, I see Bobby Clarke and Mark Messier.

      • 950003cups - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:18 PM

        When does a captain NOT get the cup handed to him? It’s the Conn Smythe that says who’s “the man”

      • 950003cups - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        By that logic, Dustin Brown is the best LA King in history. He had 2 cups handed to him “by prominent NHL official”

        Many “fans” in NY think that since he wore the “C” and made some silly Joe Namath prediction, (that had they lost, nobody would’ve remembered it) that he’s the greatest ranger ever.

        Even though Messier went to the HHOF, very little of his merits in NY were the reason he was inducted. Brian Leetch got the Conn Smythe in 1994 and was also inducted in the HHOF in 2009.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 20, 2014 at 7:34 PM

        Cups, I don’t disagree with you, and I probably would not have voted for Messier. I was explaining why many Rangers fans did. Personally, I didn’t much like him or Clarke during their playing days. Respected their talents, just didn’t much like them.
        And when does the captain not get handed the Cup? When they don’t win, such while Harry Howell, Brian Leetch, Phil Esposito, Brad Park, Vic Hadfield, Jaromir Jagr and Andy Bathgate wore the NYR C.

  5. bullwinkle88 - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Bobby Clarke was one of the dirtiest players in the league. Anyone who watched hockey during that era knows that to be a fact.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:38 PM

      Indeed, and if he’d played for my team I’d have loved him as much as I ended up hating him for being one of the Bullies.

    • 950003cups - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:38 PM

      Nope, Dave “The Hammer” Schultz takes that honor of “dirtiest player”

    • clarke16 - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      Yup–just the type of player that every head coach would sell their soul to get. The guy just plain did whatever it took to win–and win he did. Over and over and over. Period.

      Today, you have your goal-scorers…and your set-up men…and your shut-down forwards and your checking lines and your specialty teams…but Bobby Clarke did it all. Probably a top ten player to ever strap on the blades…

      They say some players can dish it out, but can’t take it. Bobby dished it like most any other FIVE players and at the other end–you just couldn’t hurt him. You look at these little Priscilla’s that lace ‘em up these days whining about this/that… Bobby Clarke ruled the league when hockey was still a game that required the heart of a Lion.

  6. stcrowe - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    I am surprised that Tim Kerr didn’t crack the top 7. I would have put him ahead of Leclair. Mark Howe deserves to be a little higher on the list.

    • flyboystransport - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      Agreed, they both should be higher than giroux. A few more seasons it’s a different story

      • maalea - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        Bill Barber needs to be much higher as well

  7. selldannysell - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    No love for Dave Schultz?

  8. officialgame - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!!!

  9. pitpenguinsrulez - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    Have You Ever Seen The Flyers Win The Cup?

    • bullwinkle88 - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      I saw it in person, why?

  10. ronniethec - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    Terry Crisp must have been on drugs to make such a blatantly stupid statement. Clarke over Orr or Gretzky? Give me a break. I saw Clarke play his entire career. A great player. Yes. Greatest Flyer of all time? Yes. One of the dirtiest players and one who hid behind his tough guy teammate’s skirts? Absolutely. I respect his ability to play the game. Other than that, I can’t stand the guy.

  11. puckmepuckyou - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    I have to agree. Clarke over Gretzky really?? No effin way. I am also shocked not to see a 4x 50 goal scorer in Tim Kerr on that list. G should not have even been on this list at all and Howe should get more respect.

  12. eagles512 - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Great player, terrible GM. And Lindros would have topped him if healthy.

    • clarke16 - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      Terrible GM? LOL! You maybe be my new dumb dumb. You like egg roll?

    • docvegas - Aug 22, 2014 at 7:06 PM

      good post, but you will get much flack is you are critical of st. bobby. he is the gm who gave patrick sharp to the black hawks for the great matt ellison, along with a few more off the wall trades

  13. chitown56 - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    How is giroux even up there?? Just shows how much the flyers suck

    • docvegas - Aug 22, 2014 at 7:10 PM

      you mean CLAUDIA, he was arrested this summer for trying to pick up a policeman up in ottawa, he is just another sword swallower

  14. ronniethec - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    Schultz loved to mix it up and fight, but I really did not think he was that dirty of a player. He did not use his stick like Clarke did and he did fight his own battles… As well as Clarke’s.

  15. broadstreetbeatdown - Aug 20, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Of course he is.

  16. 7mantel - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    I have to laugh when someone who was not even born yet comments on Flyer teams from the 70’s !

    • 950003cups - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      How many ranger fans are alive who watched them in 1940? That was the last time the actual rangers, and not an Oilers rent-a-cup squad, won the championship.

      • 7mantel - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:35 PM

        How many have claimed to have watched them ?

  17. macdega - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    What…….where’s Hextall?

  18. blomfeld - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    `go give number 17 a little tap on the ankles eh` … John Ferguson

    every true Canadian hockey fan knows Bobby Clarke for the filthy `pig`which he was … what he did to Valeri Kharlamov in 72 was despicable, as was his impalement of Darryl Sittler in 74 … if anyone is deserving of `greatest` Flyer of all time, then that should be no other than Bernie Parent !

    *** Blomfeld`s (formerly a goalie) favorite goal tenders of all time ***

    1) Vladislav Tretiak
    2) Bernie Parent
    3) Jonathan Quick
    4) Rogie Vachon
    5) Gary Smith

    • ibieiniid - Aug 21, 2014 at 9:26 AM

      (formerly a goalie)

      why didn’t you tell us this sooner? it completely explains why you’re so f’ing weird.

    • docvegas - Aug 22, 2014 at 7:01 PM

      would have put ken dryden ahead of gary smith. also, you obviously do not remember jake the snake or gumper, or glen hall

  19. redmosquito16 - Aug 21, 2014 at 1:39 AM

    WHAT ABOUT TOMMY SODERSTROM?!

  20. docvegas - Aug 22, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    lets get it straight. first putting claudia giroux ahead of billy barber is insane. second, ricky macleish should be on that list not giroux. bobby clarke was a great hockey player no doubt about that but he was also a snake on the ice who would cheap shot an opposing on the ice and expect the hammer or hound or the moose to fight his battles. i remember the night at the spectrum when clarke slashed barry clemens a young defenseman with the oakland seals and clemens two handed clarke over the head, and of course the whole team charged off the bench and tuned up clemens. funny thing about that if i would have been clemens i would done the same thing. i only brought this up to show how bobby played the game and that is cheap shot an opposing player and hide behind your teamates

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