Twenty two year old Bobby Clarke launched his
career into the superstar stratosphere in these 8 games in September of 1972.
Which may have been a surprise to some, as he was the last player to make the
The Philadelphia Flyer's infamous yet voracious
leader made the team loaded with center icemen thanks largely to a great gelling
with linemates Paul Henderson and Ron Ellis. Right from early on in the series,
this surprising trio emerged as Canada's best line. Clarke is quick to credit
the trio's status as borderline players as to whether or not they would make the
team as their biggest advantage, as they took the training and preparations more
seriously than many of the superstars who were all but guaranteed a spot on Team
Clarke earned the respect of many in the series
for his determined play, his near-flawless faceoff ability and his solid two-way
"There were guys on Team Canada who took
their game to new heights in that series. A perfect example would be Bobby
Clarke," stated Wayne Cashman.
Paul Henderson, who benefited greatly from
playing with Clarke, admired him greatly.
"Bobby Clarke turned out to be one of the
most dedicated hockey players that ever played the game. The best thing that
could have happened to Ronnie (linemate Ron Ellis) and me was to get this young
kid making plays for us. He was terrific!" Henderson enthusiastically
The "Flin Flon Bomber" also earned the
despise of many as he is of course remembered for a vicious two
handed slash on Soviet superstar Valeri Kharlamov's sore ankle, which caused him
to miss the final game. Many have chastised Clarke for his dirty actions. It is
a bit of a trademark image for Clarke, who was known as a gritty but sometimes
dirty player who would do whatever it took for his team to win.
Clarke was once asked by famous hockey journalist
Dick Beddoes about the slash. Clarke, in typical fashion, downplayed the
"tap on his sore ankle" as a part of hockey. "If I hadn't learned
to to lay on a two-hander once in a while, I'd never have left Flin Flon."
"Team Canada '72 is right at the very top of
my hockey life. I always considered winning the Stanley Cup more important, but
certainly, they're close to being equal," Clarke stated in Brian
McFarlane's excellent book: Team Canada 1972 Where Are They Now?