Philadelphia Flyers executive/icon/failed GM Bobby Clarke must have just realized the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, because he’s pissed.
“We always tried to win,” Clarke said recently. “We didn’t do what Pittsburgh did, lose seven years in a row so they could get good. They did it twice, in fact.
“It’s somewhat embarrassing that three of the last teams [in the 2009 playoffs] missed the playoffs six or seven years in a row: Washington, Chicago and Pittsburgh. Now they’re good, and the teams that try to win all the time get penalized. Our philosophy has never changed since 1967.”
Most of Clarke’s points are exaggerated. For example, the Penguins only missed the playoffs two straight seasons prior to drafting Mario Lemieux, only three straight prior to drafting Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Much of Clarke’s statement is nonsense. How is it “embarrassing” – in any way, for any reason – that Washington, Chicago and Pittsburgh did well in this year’s playoffs? How, exactly, are teams that try to win all the time “penalized”?
“Our philosophy has never changed since 1967.” Maybe that’s the problem. You can never be too big, too tough or too stupid.
Unless you’re willing to conspire with Eric Lindros’ family into bullying the Quebec Nordiques into a trade, giving up so much that the Nordiques (nee Colorado Avalanche) go from 20 wins to Stanley Cup winners in four years, the only way to get No. 1 pick-caliber talent is having a bad season. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. That’s how the NHL draft is structured.
You can either ride the rollercoaster between bad and good, or take the slow boat to above average.
Clarke failed to mention that the Flyers did reap some benefits from their approach, namely consistently good attendance and high revenue.
It’s OK to be proud of your way, but don’t denigrate other avenues, especially when a method alternate to yours just won the Stanley Cup, eliminating your team en route.
It’s also a bit harsh to criticize the current champs when your club hasn’t won a Cup in 34 years.
Flyers fans should thank God that 1975 is a tough year to chant. “Nine-teen sev-en-ty five!” Just way too many syllables.
What Clarke said was hardly analysis. It was whiny excuse-making, that’s all. That’s a part of Flyers tradition just as surely as trying to compete every year is.
By the way, do you classify signing Ray Emery as “trying to win”?
Mark Madden is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports. He hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).