“We were allowed to spend the money, we always tried to win,” Clarke said. “We didn’t do what Pittsburgh did; lose seven years in a row so they could get good. They did it twice, in fact. They went through six or seven different owners. We’ve had one owner.”
Clarke finds the strategies of some current teams appalling when considering the way other organizations have built competitive teams.
“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,” he said. “Now they’re good and the teams that try to win all the time get penalized. Our philosophy has never changed since 1967.”
First of all, thanks to Japer's Rink
for bringing this to our attention.
Second of all, let's get a couple facts out of the way right away.
The final four teams in the 2009 playoffs were Pittsburgh, Carolina, Chicago and Detroit. Washington lost in the second round.
Clarke probably didn't watch the Conference Finals because of how poorly his team performed in them in 2008.
Also, the Penguins did not miss the playoffs "six or seven years in a row." Neither did the Capitals. For that matter, neither did the Blackhawks. They iced some terrible teams over the past decade, but their longest recent playoff drought has been five seasons in a row. The Caps missed three playoffs in a row. The Pens missed four.
Now that we've gotten the technicalities out of the way, the fun can begin.
The last ten Stanley Cup Champions were Dallas, New Jersey, Colorado, Detroit, New Jersey again, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Anaheim, Detroit again and Pittsburgh.
Of those teams, the team with the longest period of mediocrity before becoming respectable was Tampa Bay. They missed the playoffs for six straight seasons before making them in 2003 and winning the Cup in 2004.
So Clarke may have a point there, right?
The teams that "try to win all the time get penalized," right?
Detroit has made the playoffs every year since 1991 and they've won four Stanley Cups during that time.
New Jersey has made the playoffs every year since 1997 and they've won two Cups.
Dallas has missed the playoffs only three times since 1994 and they've won the Cup.
The same can be said for Colorado.
None of those teams have finished last in the league in recent memory and yet they have all won the Cup.
The Flyers, who did finish last in 2007, haven't won anything since 1975.
Also, Clarke must be forgetting the seasons between 1989 and 1994 when the Flyers missed the playoffs for five straight years.
It would have been "somewhat embarrassing" for a Flyers team to go through a playoff drought like that.
The Flyers "philosophy has never changed since 1967."
That's great. That philosophy has made the Flyers a very consistent regular season team.
It just hasn't helped them in the playoffs.
Essentially what Mr. Clarke is telling us here is that if something has not been successful in over 30 years, the best thing to do is to not change a thing.
After all, it's the league that makes it impossible for the Flyers to win.
It's not trading Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, two first-round picks and $15 million dollars for Eric Lindros that caused the team problems.
Those players never helped a team win the Cup anyway.
Unless you count the 1996 Colorado Avalanche that is.
It's not signing players like Daniel Briere and Scott Hartnell to long-term contracts that has hurt the Flyers.
It's not a lack of solid goaltending or a tendency to take too many penalties.
It's definitely not trading away top prospects and draft picks for goons.
It's the way the league is set up.
It's not like the Flyers have had the opportunity to draft young talent like Joni Pitkänen, Luca Sbisa, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk in the first round, is it?
Of course Bob Clarke has negative things to say about the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There are probably a lot of people in the Flyers organization who feel the same way he does.
It definitely shouldn't be surprising that Clarke – a man who broke Valeri Kharlamov's ankle with a slash in 1972 and who reportedly could have killed Eric Lindros by trying to force him onto an airplane with a collapsed lung – would want to create controversy.
There are probably a lot of people in the Penguins organization who have bad things to say about the Flyers as well.
None of this should be surprising.
It should be as expected as a Philadelphia Flyers playoff collapse.
Clarke is just saying what Flyers fans, who have watched the Penguins eliminate their team for the past two seasons, want to hear.
He's just trying to talk a tough game and bring some respectability to a Flyers franchise that has so, so little.
Clarke is using the hatred that the Phildelphia fan base has for the Penguins to rile up Flyers fans and give them something to cheer against.
However, in parting, we have a message for Bob Clarke.
One that should serve as a reminder should he feel the need to open his mouth again.