The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Bobby Clarke



Photo of Bobby Clarke wearing a Philadelphia Flyer jersey

Photo of Bobby Clarke wearing a Philadelphia Flyer jersey

Jack Mecca/Hockey Hall of Fame

“Mr. Hustle”

The great ones in any sport play with fire in their belly and passion that has an incalculable depth. They dream of winning their sports’ biggest prize; they play to win it; they rally those around them to buy in. That’s Bobby Clarke!

Bobby Clarke led his men in black and orange to the pinnacle, again, with their second consecutive Stanley Cup in 1975. He was the undeniable spark and tenacious warrior behind the Philadelphia Flyers, the first 1967 expansion team outside the ‘original-six’ to grab hold of Lord Stanley’s mug.

Clarke’s indomitable spirit permeated the entire team. Philly Coach Fed Shero, who had been involved in professional hockey since 1943, claimed he has never encountered anyone who contributed as much to a team on or off the ice. As the team captain, his relentless skating and dogged determination on ice was an example that got everyone fired up. It also gave him the right to demand the same from others. In the last two games of the Stanley Cup final against the fiery Buffalo Sabres, the third string came through with five big goals, ultimately dispatching the Sabres in six games.

Clarke also epitomized the Flyers’ rough-house tactics and intimidating style of play. After all, the team under his captaincy was nicknamed “The Broad Street Bullies.” Some will argue that hockey can be a brutal game and a great example is the infamous elbows of Mr. Hockey himself, the great Gordie Howe. But then he stood three inches taller and packed an extra thirty pounds over the relatively small 5’10” and 176 pound Clarke. Was it simply self-preservation or was it an intentionally menacing approach to hockey? Clarke does not deny some of his notably bad hits, but argues that if he were as nasty as some say, he would have been badly decked long before. It’s never happened – the evidence in the precious few games he’s missed. In fact he played in every one in 1975. It’s worth noting that he was so potent out on the ice that he got his share too. In game six of the final, Buffalo was all over him, double-teaming him for most of the first two periods. He was so badly battered he was vomiting at the break. Fans and critics will have to decide for themselves.

One thing for sure, those who managed to get to know him off the ice spoke of a humble, classy, smart man who quietly gave his time to important causes and the less fortunate.

Clarke may not have possessed the pure talent of some of the past greats, but he made up for it with endless drive, making him just about as effective a playmaker as anyone in the game. They often say the puck follows the good players…they just always know where to be. Clarke had that instinct. His 89 assists in 1975 offer valid proof. But then you don’t get selected as the first string All-Star Team Centre and take home the Hart Trophy as league MVP with anything less.

Bobby Clarke: Spirit and spark of the Flyers Adobe PDF Transcript


Team Canada
Lou Marsh Memorial Award