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 team.
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 Canada.
Clarke earned the respect of many in the series for his determined play, his near-flawless faceoff ability and his solid two-way play.
"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 stated.
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?
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