Teams must wonder if Olympics are worth it

1/24/2006 - NHL


Philadelphia GM Bob Clarke rarely gets the respect he is due in his personnel decisions. Apart from shrewd drafting and bold free-agent signings, Clarke has shown an uncanny knack in recent years for turning other teams' cast-offs or spare parts into useful, sometimes pivotal pieces in assembling a Flyers team that is a perennial Stanley Cup contender.

Captain Keith Primeau was considered a wastrel in Detroit and Carolina, but became a consummate leader and dynamic playoff performer as a Flyer. Sami Kapanen, one of the league's most versatile players, was obtained from Carolina for spare parts.

This season, Clarke signed unwanted veteran Brian Savage on the eve of training camp, and Savage has pitched in with timely goals as the Flyers have fought through an inhuman stretch of injuries.

That said, Clarke has stretched the boundaries with his acquisition of Petr Nedved (pictured).
The 34-year-old center, a former teammate of coach Wayne Gretzky, was expected to provide veteran leadership and scoring in Phoenix but was a huge bust, scoring just twice in 25 games, garnering a minus-6 and missing 19 games with various injuries.

Nedved was a healthy scratch for the struggling Coyotes, and it will be interesting to see how the lanky center survives under taskmaster Ken Hitchcock in Philadelphia. If he becomes a useful contributor, Clarke gets our vote for manager of the year. -- S.B.