Bobby Clarke has some thoughts, and he’s going to share them.
The former Philadelphia Flyers legend and current team senior vice president made quite the splash when he appeared on “The Cam & Strick Podcast” on Tuesday, offering his unfiltered thoughts on former Flyers GM Ron Hextall and the job he did in building the roster prior to his dismissal in 2018.
Those thoughts weren’t exactly flattering, with Clarke paying particular focus to the decision to draft Nolan Patrick with the second overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft over Cale Makar.
“We end up getting the second pick in the draft, and we end up drafting Nolan Patrick,” explained Clarke.
“None of our scouts wanted Nolan Patrick. I don’t know where Patrick should have gone, after his performances in Brandon – he’s a pretty good player. But certainly, they wanted Makar. Of course, he went next. Now, he’s a superstar and Patrick hasn’t played. But Hextall made that choice himself, and there were other choices that were made at our drafts that we’re paying for.”
“We have two or three first-round picks that are never going to play, and that’s why we’re struggling. Hextall made some huge mistakes.”
Clarke clearly has some pent-up feelings about the way Hextall conducted business during his time at the helm, feelings that he had been waiting years to unload.
Now, hindsight can be a tricky thing, as it can be easily twisted in order to suit a person’s specific perspective. Perhaps that’s what Clarke is doing here. But if this is true, and Hextall did act alone in selecting Patrick against the consensus recommendation of the Flyers’ scouts, that decision has set the team back likely half a decade – or even more.
Patrick has dealt with constant health problems since entering the NHL, so piling on top of the 23-year-old for a lack of production when compared to arguably the game’s best defender is largely unfair. But it’s hard to wonder just how different the Flyers’ past few seasons would look if they ultimately came away from that draft in 2018 with Makar instead of Patrick.
Alas, we will never know.