Point/Counterpoint: Greatest Flyer Ever, Clarke or Parent?

Photo courtesy of Zap2it.com

Welcome to the newest edition of “Point/Counterpoint,” where a pair of Flyers Faithful scribes present both sides of one particular issue with their own unique view and flair.

This week, Dain S and Jim H debate who is the greatest Flyer ever, Bobby Clarke or Bernie Parent. Jim will start off with his candidate, Robert Earl Clarke.

Jim: The Flyers have had players of various popularity and skill levels over their illustrious 40-plus years roaming NHL arenas, but when I close my eyes and think the word ” Flyers,” what jumps to the forefront of my mind’s eye is the image of a virtually toothless, wild-maned man from the hinterlands of Flin Flon Manitoba — Bobby Clarke — that rolls in with a vengeance.

Clarke is one if those rare beasts that never wore (as a player) any jersey other than the Orange and Black, the club that drafted him in the second round back in 1969. He was a Flyer from the moment he was drafted to the moment he retired and remains one to this day as an executive in the organization.
Many Flyers fans define themselves through the spirit of the “Broad Street Bullies” and the Broad Street bullies defined themselves through their tenacious captain and leader. Clarke battled opponents with reckless abandon and smote the evil Russians at a time when America needed a hero (who happened to be born-and-bred Canadian).
Most importantly ,to any fan of the movie “Slap Shot,” just try and tell me Ogie Oglethorpe isn’t based on Clarkie!
I was lucky enough to attend a game recently, where Clarke’s #16 was being re-retired. Watching him accept this honor with grandchildren in tow was one of my finest moments as a Flyers fan. The mini banner I received at that game holds an inspirational section of my wall, where I can reflect on the Greatest Flyer to lace up skates, Bobby Clarke.

Dain: With all due respect, Bernie Parent is the greatest Flyer of all for one reason: without him, the Flyers don’t win two Stanley Cups.  His shutout of the Big Bad Bruins in Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals on home ice clinched the first of two consecutive championships and provided millions with a memory that will last a hockey lifetime. Parent also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP both times the Flyers took home the Cup. Although the Flyers returned to the Finals in 1976, without Parent they were swept by the Montreal Canadiens, who had to deal with Wayne Stephenson. Perhaps a healthy Parent would have been able to lead the Flyers to a third straight title.

His career was cut short by a freak eye injury, but had Bernie been able to play at all during the 1979-1980 season, who knows how long the Flyers unbeaten streak would have been. The outcome of the Finals against the New York Islanders would also have been different, in my opinion, as a healthy and still in his prime Parent could have changed history and given the Flyers yet another Stanley Cup. Without Parent, the later-day Broad Street Bullies were never able to get over the hump and their championship drought lasts to this very day.

I leave you with this: [NBC Sports]

It brings a tear to my eye.

  • Jams

    Bobby Clarke is the definitive Flyer.