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02-15-2004, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by JCD
Clarke is an average at best GM. Flyers have a huge bank book to keep them competitve: Clarke can buy his way out of mistakes.

Drafting: Clarke is great at hitting with his 1st round picks. After that, he is well below par. How many NHLers has Clarke drafted after the 1st? In over a decade now, Cechmanek is about it. That is a pretty poor record. His success with the 1st round is notable though.

Trades: For every good trade, you have a bad trade. For Pitkanen, you have Oates. For LeClair, you have Coffey. For each of them, you have 2 more meaningless ones. Clarke has yet to realize that stability and success are related. Flyers have a roster turn-over that looks like an expansion franchise and not a Cup Contender.

Addressing Needs: This is far and away Clarke's biggest shortcoming. Either he stubbornly refuses to admit the current situation doesn't work, or he is too blind to notice. It is a pattern that repeats year after year. In the mid-90's we were on our way to the Cup. Clarke continually failed to put the supporting cast in place neccesary to take the next step. Mainly, it was failure to get a competent goalie in net. This last year, we shuddered in dread when Clarke stated his goaltending phillosphy: it doesn't matter who is in net unless it is the best in the league. Clarke lived by that mantra, Cechmanek is the only goalie in 8 years that started 2 post-seasons in a row. Clarke seemed to forget that Parent won him those Cups.

What is more troubling, is that while goaltending was being ignored, he was tinkering with areas already strong. Screwing up team chemistry and create log jams. Take the 1998 season. We were coming of a Stanley Cup appearance. Goaltending was clearly our weaklink, followed by a thin defense corps. Clarke signed Gratton. Why? Gratton was an up and coming player, but he was a center and we had Hawerchuk (hadn't retired yet), Brindy, Otto plus prospects in the system (i.e. Prospal) at that position. Gratton was decent, but forced us to juggle line-ups all year trying to accomodate 5 centers on the top-2 lines.

Clarke passed on CuJo because Beezer was cheaper. Beezer would have been adequate, but Clarke has systematically removed every trace of speed from our blueline over the past 2 seasons. Coffey, Niinimaa, Dykhuis, Svoboda were out for Samuelsson, Richardson, McGillis and Babych. It is only recently that we have regained any jump on the blueline.

PR Nightmare: Chaos follows Clarke. The Lindros fiasco is well known, but the ugliness remained with the Flyers after Lindros left. Some of the things Clarke does directly (Nielson went goofy on us...), others are indirect results. Clarke's frenetic roster turnover creates a fractioned locker room (the 'core' and the outsiders) and he makes no secret about taking sides in confrontations. Clarke has his favorites and he has his disliked. At times, this lets the inmates run the asylum: the Barber fiasco and running of Cechmanek.

In All: In terms of GM skills alone, Clarke is decent. Why Clarke is not a GM is that he doesn't seem to operate with any sort of vision. He works by the seat of his pants. There is no evidence of a 3- or 5- year plan. The constant turnover, the failure to address needs, the overstocking of positions while ignoring others, the coaching revolving door all lead me to be that not even Clarke has any idea where this team will be in 2 months, let alone 2 years.

That lack of vision is totally unacceptable in his position. If Clarke worked under the direction of somebody who DID have a plan, he might be a good GM. He doesn't. Clarke is the highest position in the organization and takes orders from nobody (outside of Snyder, but that is a different story).

Bottom line: Clarke runs the Flyers like a 13 year old playing EHM. Trade after trade after trade. Stubbornly building and rebuilding and rebuilding a team according to some model that doesn't work (big, slow and poor goaltending). Trades off young players on a whim. Routinely overstocks one position while ignoring others. Throws money around like it was nothing.

The Flyer's window for winning the Cup has all but closed. Clarke has never built a Cup winning team in his career and, barring divine intervention bestowing him with a sense of vision, he never will. Right now, the Flyers are following the same pattern which his past teams have, only Comcast's pocketbook as prolonged the decline.

That's areal solid post JCD, except you can't possibly think it's gonna take "Divine Intervention," for the current Flyers to win a Cup do you? We're one of the top 4 teams in the NHL right now. If you need "Divine Intervention," this year...whats the point of even icing a team? We may need a few breaks...which we're notorious for not getting, but we have as good a shot as anyone in the East. Get to the Finals and I like this team...if only it were so easy. Great post but I do think you underestimate this Team.

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