Friday, November 13, 2009

Achilles From Flin Flon: Bobby Clarke

Bobby Clarke was rock n' roll on ice. He was a scrapper and the type of player who went all out as if his life and yours depended on it. As the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers he inspired commitment because he never expected his teammates to do anything he himself wouldn't do first. In the mid-70s Clarke and his "Broad Street Bullies" shook up the "City of Brotherly Love" and the rest of the NHL with a speed and aggression that changed the game forever. I loved it.

As a young aspiring pee-wee I thought his style was the coolest. I found out his birthday - August 13th - was one day before mine and always went looking for his hockey card whenever a new season came around.

I also took his number - 16. With no front teeth and curly blonde hair, Clarke led a gang that could deliver a kick ass performance at the drop of a puck.

Clarke was selected 17th by the Flyers in the second round of the 1969 draft, but he had diabetes - his achilles heel. With the help of trainers he put together a sugar diet and began drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola with three spoonfuls of dissolved sugar before each game. Between periods he downed half a glass of orange juice with sugar added, and kept chocolate bars and a tube of 100% glucose stashed nearby just in case.

Here's an interview with the CBC's Brian McFarlane from the 1976 Super Series, a string of exhibition games played between USSR Red Army and 8 NHL teams.

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