Claim to fame: NHL hockey player
DOB: August, 1949
Diabetes type: 1
Bobby Clarke was born in Canada in August of 1949. At the young age of eight, he began to play hockey for his home team, the Flin Flon Bombers. Clarke had the best performance in the league, racking up 168 points playing for the Bombers in the 1967-68 season. At thirteen years old, Clarke learned that he suffered from diabetes, but doctors told him that he would be able to play professional hockey if he took care of his health.
As Clarke grew up, his passion for hockey only grew greater, and he was determined to play professionally. Teams were hesitant to draft him, however, because of his diabetes. He assured them that his hard work and dedication would pay off. The Philadelphia Flyers gave Clarke a shot, and drafted him as their seventeenth selection in the second round of the 1969 draft; they refused two great offers to trade twenty-year-old Clarke.
Clarke’s lack of knowledge about diabetic diets made the start of his career challenging. He had two serious diabetic seizures during training camp, but got a handle on his disease after one of his coaches drew up a complete dietary plan for Clarke to follow. His diet antics would later become famous: he would drink two phentermine cans of Coca-Cola with three spoonfuls of sugar before a game. Between periods, he downed half a glass of orange juice with sugar added, and a whole glass after the game. He packed chocolate bars and glucose gum in his uniform pockets to prevent his sugar from falling from all the physical activity during the sixty-minute games.
Clarke was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication by the third season. His diabetes was no longer an issue as he became the uncontested leader of the team, chalking up the highest number of points in the club’s history. After the NHL 1983-84 season, Clarke retired, and immediately became general manager (GM) of the Philadelphia Flyers. He spent eighteen of the following twenty-two seasons as GM of the Flyers, also serving briefly as GM of the Florida Panthers and the Minnesota North Stars. Clarke reached the Stanley Cup Finals three times with the Flyers, and once with Minnesota.
During Clarke’s fifteen seasons as a player in the NHL, he led the Flyers to two Stanley Cups, and was awarded three times the Hart Trophy as league MVP. In 1987, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and in 1998, Clarke was rated number twenty-three in The Hockey News’ list of the top 100 NHL players of all time. In 2005, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Clarke, who played his entire NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers, resigned from the GM position less than a month into the 2006-07 season, and is now the Flyers’ Senior Vice President.
Most recently, on January 14, 2017, Clarke played in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 50th-anniversary alumni game, which he announced would be his last ever.