Bobby Clarke was born in Canada in August of 1949. At the young age of eight, Clarke began to play hockey for his home team, the Flin Flon Bombers. The best performance in the league was when Clarke racked up 168 points playing for the Bombers in the 1967-68 season. At 13-years-old, Clarke learned that he suffered from diabetes, but doctors concluded that Clarke could play professional hockey if he took proper care of his health.
As Clarke grew up, his passion for hockey only grew fonder and he was determined to play professionally. Teams were hesitant to draft him, however, because of his diabetes. He assured them that his hard work and dedication would pay off. The Philadelphia Flyers gave Clarke a shot and drafted him as their 17th selection in the second round of the 1969 draft; they refused two great offers to trade 20-year-old Clarke.
Clarke’s lack of knowledge on diabetic diets made the start of his career challenging. He had two serious diabetic seizures during training camp, but got a handle on his disease after one of his coaches drew up a complete dietary plan for Clarke to follow. His diet antics would later become famous: He would drink two cans of Coca-Cola with three spoonfuls of sugar before a game. Between periods, he downed half a glass of orange juice with sugar added, and a whole glass after the game. He packed chocolate bars and glucose gum in his uniform pockets to prevent his sugar from going down from all the physical activity during the sixty-minute games.
Clarke was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication by the third season. His diabetes was no longer an issue as he became the uncontested leader of the team and chalked up the highest number of points in the club’s history. After the NHL 1983-84 season, Clarke retired and immediately became general manager (GM) of the Philadelphia Flyers. He spent 18 of the following 22 seasons as GM of the Flyers, also serving briefly as GM of the Florida Panthers and Minnesota North Stars; Clarke reached the Stanley Cup Finals three times with the Flyers and once with Minnesota.
During Clarke’s 15 seasons as a player in the NHL, he led the Flyers to two Stanley Cups and was awarded three times the Hart Trophy as league MVP. In 1987, he was inducted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame and in 1998, Clarke was rated number 23 on The Hockey News’ list of The Top 100 NHL Players of All-Time. His most recent award occurred in 2005 when he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Clarke, who played his entire NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers, resigned from the GM position less than a month into the 2006-07 season and is now the Flyers’ Senior Vice President.