"Their whole attitude that you can do anything to win a game comes mainly from Bobby Clarke," says Resch. Clarke, who now doubles as a center and an assistant coach, may have the reputation of a saint and the face of an angel, but he is a devilish player, pitchfork and all. "Team Canada is playing the Soviet Union in 1972," Resch says, "and they're losing, so Clarke takes a whack at Valery Kharlamov, the best Soviet player, and ruins his ankle. Afterward Clarke says, 'I realized I had to do anything to win.' Well, when your leader feels like that and has gotten so much positive publicity, as Clarke has over the years, it's got to filter down."
Clarke, who is 31 and in his 12th NHL season, claims he has mellowed. "Look at my face," he says, "I get cut more than anybody, but that's fine, I guess." Clarke's face is, in fact, beginning to resemble Gerry Cheevers' famous goalie mask. The crowfeet around his eyes aren't a result of aging. "Nobody bitches if I get stuck in the eye. Look, I'm certainly not an innocent bystander, I get involved. But I consciously try to keep my stick on the ice, under control. Nobody likes to hear that people think he'd deliberately try and hurt another player. I have a wife and four kids and I don't want them reading things like that."
Clarke has had a couple of high-stick incidents this season. He took a five-minute major on Oct. 18 in Toronto when he caught the Maple Leafs' Pat Hickey under the eye, and he got another one on Oct. 30 at the Spectrum when he hooked Ranger rookie Mike Allison around the throat and yanked him to the ice. Imagine if Clarke had not been making an effort to keep his stick on the ice.
Allen can tick off a defense of his players better than Perry Mason. They're never guilty. Take the case of Holmgren, Minnesota born and bred, a very good hockey player when he sticks to playing hockey, which isn't often enough; he scored 30 goals last season but was the NHL's third most-penalized player with 267 minutes (3.6 per game) and is No. 1 this season with 99 minutes (7.0 per game). He uses his body. "North American fans want to see more physical-type games," he says. Unfortunately, he sometimes uses his stick and his skates for purposes other than those for which they were intended.
Holmgren was suspended for three games in 1977 for a Spectrum exhibition-game incident in which he and Boston's Wayne Cashman went after each other in the corridor between the teams' dressing rooms. He was suspended for three games in November of 1978 for attempting to kick Boston's Terry O'Reilly while being restrained by a linesman following an altercation. A month later he was suspended for six games when he hit the Rangers' Carol Vadnais over the head with his stick. This year Holmgren picked up three game misconducts in the Flyers' first 11 matches and has served a one-game suspension.
"Paul didn't deserve any of those misconducts," says Allen.
While the Flyers believe the referees call too many penalties, their opponents wonder what the referees are watching. In Quebec two weeks ago the Flyers fell behind the Nordiques by two goals, but gained a tie after Bridgman spent some time whacking at the Nordiques' Peter Stastny, who then became invisible as Philly rallied. "That's the way the Flyers play, but I don't call it violence," said Quebec Coach Michel Bergeron. "To me, it is just excessive roughness, which the referee has to call without hesitation."
The Philadelphia story? "If the referee is going to call everything," Clarke says, "then you're going to have teams short-handed all night. Is that what the fans want to see?"
Allen doesn't think so. "We put more fannies in the seats than any team in the league," he says. "Not even the Montreal Canadiens outdraw us. So we must be doing something right."