Better late than never

I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up late this afternoon and find out the Philadelphia Flyers had cleaned out, ousting Ken Hitchcock while letting Bob Clarke retain some dignity by stepping down.

First off, make no mistake, Bob Clarke was fired as well. I have no inside knowledge telling me this, but you don't have to be a genius to put two and two together. In addition to his familial connection that seemed to give him carte blanche within the organization, in that city, Bobby Clarke is a legend within that franchise. I'm sure the last thing Ed Snider wanted to do was pink slip his son in law, the guy who captained their only Cup winning seasons, but he didn't have a choice.

I imagine Snider pulled Clarke aside sometime late this week, told him they wanted to move in another direction, and let him "resign" rather than get the axe. I can respect that.

Truth is, if Clarke had a different wife, or played his NHL years with another team, he probably would have been canned years ago. The amount of executive brainfarts he's committed are many. Among them:
- how he handled Roger Nielsen's cancer
- the Eric Lindros mess
- all the goaltending misjudgements over the year
- Chris Gratton
- Derian Hatcher
& Mike Rathje

Clarke was also saved by the fact the Flyers organization has been incredibly good at drafting and developing young talent. Despite routinely drafting late, if they even hold onto their first round picks, Philly has built up an impressive crop of young players over the years.

As for Hitchcock, I feel bad because I genuinely think the man is a good coach, and I doubt he'll have a hard time finding a job. But based on how players played for him Tuesday night, it sure seems as if they've given up on Hitch. Perhaps John Stevens, a younger bench boss with (hopefully) some new, fresh ideas and a connection to the players that Hitchcock clearly lacked.

The Flyers have enough talent to pull it together and make the playoffs. And as we saw last season, once the postseason begins, anything can happen.