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Bringing Hexy Back • 42 Years Old • Male
Bob Clarke recently had a few choice comments about the latest Steve Downie tempest in a teapot and, of course controversy followed.

Clarke said that he "loved" when Downie punched Leafs forward Jason Blake in the face earlier this week, because Blake ran his mouth about Downie when he was suspended for his hit on Ottawa's Dean McAmmond in the preseason.

"Blake was a guy who had no problem going out and saying (Downie) should be suspended for life or suspended for the year. When you say something that stupid, why shouldn't this kid go after him for it?"

"The kid did what every hockey player should do," added Clarke. "If a player like Blake who's been around as long as he has wants to criticize a player then he has to go on the ice with him and suffer the consequences."

Clarke is viewed as a moronic neanderthal by a lot of folks. There have been a lot of comments on the story calling the Flyers a classless organization and garbage. I mean, how could anyone defend a thug like Downie?

I am an unabashed Flyers fan. Outside of my family, the Flyers are my biggest passion. I am also somewhat anti-Downie. I don't doubt his skill and potential, but I also see the possibility that the kid is a ticking time bomb.

I said he deserved a lengthy suspension when he nailed McAmmond. However, I also felt that 20 games was too many, unless the NHL was setting a new standard on head shots-as they trumpeted when announcing the Downie suspension.

Well, in my estimation the NHL in general and Colin Campbell in particular dropped the ball on that. Far too many suspendable offenses have occured with Campbell doing little more than issuing a perfunctory statement.

Clarke, of course, also felt that the McAmmond hit was perfectly legal and not worthy of a suspension, comparing it to those laid by Scott Stevens of the Devils.

However, now that I have digressed, the basis of this essay is to determine Clarke's rational.

I think the above covers the Neanderthal angle.

Now, the words "The Code" get tossed around like a rag doll in a clothes dryer. They are used to defend, vilify, excuse and explain. However, what exactly is "The Code" in today's NHL?

My guess is, in Clarke's eyes, Downie is a teammate who needed his back defended. Downie has been hit with the longest non stick infraction penalty in NHL history-at least prior to Chris Simon's latest-and before he skated a shift in a regular season game.

Subsequent incidents and Campbell's half-assed reaction to them have clearly shown that Downie was unjustly punished for his transgression.

Now we have a punch thrown at the face of Jason Blake, who despite a 40 goal season last year, remains basically a fast guy with a big mouth. What Downie did was certainly punishable, and it was-he got a penalty and a fine, which should have been the end of it.

However, with the Syracuse Bulldogs Syndrome, Downie's jab to Blake's face was a banner headline on tsn.ca's front page. Then Clarke's comments were a banner headline a couple of days later. Somehow, TSN managed to miss the hit from behind from Pavel Kubina that opened up Braydon Coburn.

There was also the 5 minute major assessed to Ryan Hollweg for-yet another-hit from behind. Outside of catching guys from behind, I have trouble understanding exactly what it is Hollweg does for the Rangers. Maybe they need him for the asthma commercial that runs on the MSG Network...anyhow, I digress for the second time.

I suppose it boils down to the amount of passion the Philadelphia Flyers provoke around the NHL. They have worn a black hat since the early 1970's and are both admired by some and despised by many. Understanding that, Clarke's comments are visible in a more reasonable context. I mean let's face it, the pompous Canadiens teams that finally unseated the Flyers felt they had to "save hockey" from the Flyers. Those sentiments die hard. It's also very hard, if not impossible to shake the "us against the world" mentality that those Flyers teams were forced to adopt.

I mean, how many other teams with 3 future Hall of Famers, a solid defense and excellent scoring depth were greeted by papers and other media exhorting the citizens of other NHL cities to lock up their daughters and their sheep, because the animals are in town?

Adding a divisive figure like Downie to that mix gives the maniacal Toronto media more fuel to feed the fire. Does anyone doubt that the suits at TSN were praying for Clarke to live up to "The Code" and leap to Downie's defense? Now comes the tired old refrain of Bully.

Granted, the Flyers have added fuel to the fire themselves. Jesse Boulerice got a deserved 25 game suspension. Downie got a somewhat excessive penalty for a brutal hit. However, Riley Cote got three games for the same hit that earned Andy Sutton a two minute minor. Randy Jones and Scott Hartnell got nailed for 2 games each for hockey plays that went awry.

I'll bet that is close to the way Bob Clarke feels about the situation, and why he simply followed "the Code" and had his teammate's back as he was unfairly pounced upon by the media and fans that have a deep hatred for the team that Clarke remains an icon of.

Anyhow, I now pause to put on my black hat and join my fellow Flyers fans in giving TSN and other knee jerk bashers of the team and player a one fingered salute.
Filed Under:   Jsaq   Flyers   Clarke   Downie   TSN  
January 10, 2008 1:26 AM ET | Delete
I will be honest js I thought it was tackless by clark , but it doesn't surprise me. It really makes me think this is the reason why we have so much trouble with violance in the NHL because as a whole they accept it.
January 10, 2008 1:34 AM ET | Delete
some may hold the perspective that even Boulerice's suspension, in hindsight, now, was severe.... he was, after all, defending a teamate who had just endured a run from a player of the other team, Kessler, i believe.... one could easily review Boulerice's actions not of an intent to injure, but rather as an intent to send a message, by meaning to crosscheck the offending player with a crosscheck across the chest -- hardly deserving of a suspension -- but rather caught the player in an awkward postion and got him in the face; all for which Boulerice got 25 games, a bit steep in the minds of some, not named Colin Camblel or employed by TSN or the Canadian media. Again, in hindsight, given the way other similar acts have been handled by the media, and the league....
January 10, 2008 1:34 AM ET | Delete
Nice blog, JS. I raise my middle finger with you in solidarity!
January 10, 2008 1:51 AM ET | Delete
Being a Flyers fan myself, I feel like Campbell is targeting Philly while letting other teams' players have a pass with similar hits. Clarke was just putting his opinion out there, and the league be damned. Good for him.************"I am an unabashed Flyers fan. Outside of my family, the Flyers are my biggest passion. I am also somewhat anti-Downie. I don't doubt his skill and potential, but I also see the possibility that the kid is a ticking time bomb."************I agree. At this point, I don't think Downie deserves NHL playing time. The kid has talent, and will be a force in the NHL in the future, but he's got to prove he can control himself on the ice first.
January 10, 2008 1:58 AM ET | Delete
Great blog JS as usual. I am too young and never saw the glory days of the flyers. I have had to watch clarke on the flyers highlights and their top ten games of all time dvd. I have always love clarke though even when he was gm. I love that he defended downie even if no one else did. Canada may not like it but i like how one flyer sticks up for another flyer.
January 10, 2008 1:59 AM ET | Delete
Jsaq, I thank you for this well thought out blog... it about says it all. I am really tired of this crap; the cries that the Flyers are the scum of the NHL. Nothing will be accomplished as to the cleaning up of headhunting, and other dangerous hits, until people recognize the entire picture and stop their witch hunt of Flyers warlocks.
January 10, 2008 2:13 AM ET | Delete
terrific read. there's nothing quite like a weatherbeaten black (and orange) hat...
January 10, 2008 2:13 AM ET | Delete
Message Posted
January 10, 2008 3:57 AM ET | Delete
So here's a question. How long until Toronto fans and media start bellowing for Wade Belak to be suspended for his "cheap-shot" punch of George Parros last night after Parros had fallen to the ice in their wrestling match, when the refs already had intervened? Oh, and should I add that Belak got a 10-minute misconduct for his actions, and that was after he had put out his knee on Parros...Apparently Jason Blake has already called a press conference to announce his support for an eternal suspension for Belak, to be continued right on through the afterlife.What's that you say? Belak plays for the Leafs? Oh, never mind then. Probably some Flyer planted the idea in Belak's head, so we should suspend Holmgren, Clarke, and Stevens, fine them 100 billion dollars, and take away their draft picks for the next 17 years.Is it any coincidence, by the way, that Belak is an anagram for Blake?
January 10, 2008 6:20 AM ET | Delete
Many players voiced the opinion that Downie should have been canned for the year, not just Blake. Has he taken their names and will he set out to sucker punch each one? Talk is one thing, a sucker punch is another...and of course Clarke will defend it. For 2 reasons: a good reason...it's his player, so that's understandable. Another reason... as one of the dirtiest players in the history of hockey, he loves that crap (sucker punches and stuff). Let me see if I can remember the Canadian player who broke Kharlamov's ankle with his stick in 1972.... Different point: don't forget that most of us in Canada (at least the West) loathe TSN (Toronto Sports Network) and don't hold their views in any way. Good article. My summation of Clarke -- by saying Downie's hit was "legal" and I guess then okay... he has taken his stand as a Neanderthal.
January 10, 2008 6:43 AM ET | Delete
I think Clarke's comments are simply an opportunity to get his name in the paper. Hitting someone when they are being held is simply classeless. If Blake ran his mouth, stand up and challenge him but don't cheap shot him. As for the black hat thats laughable. The Flyers, while better this year, have been largely irrelevant for far to long to strike any fear into anyone.
January 10, 2008 7:21 AM ET | Delete
Flyers don't scare anyone? I hope you mean physically, because the way you made that sound, you sound like your talking from a talent standpoint.
January 10, 2008 8:24 AM ET | Delete
clarkie one of the dirtiest? so be it, but he has 2 cups and is a hall of famer. id take it. and i hate all this code crap. every player who said downie should be banned from the nhl also broke a code, so i hope he goes after all of them.
January 10, 2008 8:30 AM ET | Delete
I tried calling out (in an intellegent and civil manner) TSN and the TO media in the "your call" part of the report. It was no surprise to me that TSN never posted it, though there was plenty of "what goes around, comes around" talk and hoping for flyers injuries. TSN is the Leafs as FOX is to George Bush.
January 10, 2008 9:49 AM ET | Delete
Simply put, it was Clarkie being Clarkie. Just as it's been TSN being TSN. And Blake being Blake. Hopefully, though, "Downie being Downie" will take on a more positive meaning in the future.
January 10, 2008 10:25 AM ET | Delete
The NHL is becoming WAY to PC. Scrums AND punches happen EVERY GAME in hockey. For people calling for this guy to be suspended need to have their manhood removed. Good for Clarke to say what he said.
January 10, 2008 10:32 AM ET | Delete
For those that call the Flyers irrelevant, they should check their glass houses before tossing stones. Outside of a finals run in 2006, what has Edmonton done of note? Oh yeah, bled talent. The simple fact that the Flyers are consistently front page news on one of Canada's biggest sports networks, as well as often talked about on XM radio's hockey channel, shows that they are relevant in the sense that when they have an incident, fans of all teams have no issue coming together to blast them. That is hardly irrelevant
January 10, 2008 10:50 AM ET | Delete
It really is sad when an American teams "faults" have higher priority in the news over any of the Canadian teams... I think that priorities need to be looked at here, because this crying wolf all the time is getting old.By the way, I don't think sixth in the conference is irrelevant... That's playoffs. Ironic how Toronto and Edmonton are both 14th in their respective divisions...
January 10, 2008 10:53 AM ET | Delete
P.S. Very good blog. I enjoyed reading it, and it only reiterated a lot of my feelings on the garbage that the league is turning into. I don't condone Clarke's words, but his thought process definitely makes sense. TSN is attempting to disassemble the Flyers through words and verbal bullying. It's sad, actually, that anyone would resort to that.
January 10, 2008 12:22 PM ET | Delete
Nice blog, I love the hatred that comes from all sides when people write blogs. Wasn't Clarke a pseudo pest on the ice. Why wouldn't he be now, besides you can't tell me he doesn't like saying stuff just to piss off Toronto. Good job as always JS, keep it up.
January 10, 2008 1:22 PM ET | Delete
good blog.... but there is a code in hockey. you don't hit a guy when hes down or sucker a guy. its just the code i respect Chris Phillips and Chara because the last 2 years they have had Kaleta and Lecalvier on there backs and could have gone to town on their faces but didn't because its the code. Downie is a scum player and Clarke is a scum executive. i respect the flyers as an organization they have some world class players in briere, smith, gagne, and a great person in biron its just these few players that give the team a bad rep.
January 10, 2008 2:00 PM ET | Delete
"Put one of your fingers on each hand up..."Thanks Em.Nice work JS - a well written, spot-on and irreverent look at the hypocrisy that is running rampant in the NHL and, most especially, the Media these days. I love a black hat. SYF
January 10, 2008 2:14 PM ET | Delete
Metman: "but there is a code in hockey. you don't hit a guy when hes down or sucker a guy"Kinda like what Belak did to Parros last night in their fight? lol
January 10, 2008 4:17 PM ET | Delete
So I keep looking on TSN for the big cover story about Belak needing a suspension for his classless action. I guess my browser isn't updating their pages correctly.
January 10, 2008 4:22 PM ET | Delete
flyershockey: Goes after them with what? More sucker punches? That's the only way Downie would do it because he's a coward who doesn't have the courage to face the heat directly. He's like a little spoiled brat who instead of facing the heat in the kitchen starts breaking dishes and throwing things around.
January 10, 2008 4:58 PM ET | Delete
Your best blog to date! Very well written. Maybe they need him Hollweg for the asthma commercial that runs on the MSG Network... Hilarious.
January 10, 2008 5:04 PM ET | Delete
This is such a non-story it's laughable. I won't go so far as to say the Fly is getting too much attention for dirty play, but most of it has been overblown. And this outcry is pretty laughable. I will say that Downie's hit on McAmmond was one of the most disgraceful things I've ever seen in sport and should have been severely punished-- the worst head shot I've ever seen and fortunate not to have been more serious. Punching a guy while being separated is fairly harmless, not dangerous, and certainly not unprecedented. Maybe he shouldn't have done it but these things tend to sort themselves out.
January 10, 2008 5:08 PM ET | Delete
Oh yeah, I forgot, Bobby Clake. Hate him. Would likely love him if I were a Flyer fan. Typical lightning rod.
January 10, 2008 5:51 PM ET | Delete
January 10, 2008 9:19 PM ET | Delete
So, of course, Ryan Hollweg scores two goals against the Flyers tonight...
January 11, 2008 2:41 AM ET | Delete
Bob Clark is great I love the guy. I agree totally with what he said. I like the fact that he has the balls to say what he thinks and doesn't sugar coat it.
January 11, 2008 11:00 AM ET | Delete
Wonderful performance by Hollweg last night in an otherwise unremarkable game.
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