Flyers GM Clarke Resigns; Coach Fired
Oct. 22, 2006
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Flyers general manager Bob Clarke resigned and coach Ken Hitchcock was fired Sunday in a major shakeup after Philadelphia got off to its worst start in more than 15 years, a person in the NHL with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Flyers have scheduled a 10 a.m. news conference at the Wachovia Center to announce the moves.
The Flyers are 1-6-1 and have the fewest points in the NHL, including an embarrassing 9-1 loss at Buffalo last week. Their five-game losing streak is the worst in five seasons.
Clarke never matched the success as a general manager as he did as a Hall of Fame player when he led the Flyers to Stanley Cup championships in the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons. Clarke was in his 13th season in his second stint as general manager, after handling the GM role in the 1980s.
Hitchcock signed a three-year contact though the 2008-09 season in training camp and was in his fourth season with the Flyers. He led the Flyers to the conference finals in 2004, where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who later won the Stanley Cup.
Before Hitchcock was hired, the Flyers used five different coaches in the previous six seasons.
In 10 NHL seasons with Dallas and Philadelphia, Hitchcock is 408-249-100. He is 66-51 in playoff games and won the Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999.
Philadelphia's 1-6-1 start is their worst since the 1989-90 season. The Flyers have scored only 15 goals in eight games, and five of them are from Simon Gagne. The played Friday's loss at Florida without captain Peter Forsberg, who has a sprained wrist.
They are a woeful 4-for-55 on power-play chances this season.
The Flyers play again Thursday at home against Atlanta.
Philadelphia was bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Buffalo last season, and has seemed ill-equipped to win a Stanley Cup in the new-look NHL. Many of the same problems they had last season have lingered into this season, including a plodding defense that has yet to score a goal.
The Flyers waived three players last week after the blowout loss to the Sabres, including Nolan Baumgartner, their lone free-agent signing to bolster the defense.
With a shaky defense and little offensive punch, the goaltenders have struggled, especially opening night starter Robert Esche. Esche has allowed 13 goals in two winless starts.
Clarke played for the Flyers from 1969-1984 and scored 358 goals and 1210 points, finishing his career as their career leader in assists (852), points (1210), and games played (1144). He was captain of the famed ``Broad Street Bullies'' teams in the 1970s.
Clarke immediately went from playing into management, holding the GM role from 1984-1990. He returned to the position in 1994, famously feuding with Eric Lindros in the late 1990s.
Hitchcock also led Dallas to two Stanley Cup finals appearances _ winning the title in 1999 and going back the next year _ and five straight division titles.