TORONTO -- Hall of Famer Bob Clarke, the heart and soul of the Flyers of the 1970s and the architect of the resurgent Philadelphia franchise of the 1990s, was named general manager of Canada's Olympic Hockey Team on Thursday, Canadian Hockey announced.
Bob Gainey, general manager of the Dallas Stars, was named an assistant general manager, as was Pierre Gauthier, GM of the Ottawa Senators. The three were selected by Bob Nicholson, vice-president of hockey operations for Canadian Hockey, the governing body for the sport in Canada, which is responsible for Canada's men's and women's national and Olympic teams.
For the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan in February 1998, Clarke, Gainey and Gauthier will be charged with building a team capable of bringing a gold medal home from the Olympic hockey tournament for the first time since the Edmonton Mercurys did it in 1952.
In 1998, the Winter Games will for the first time see so-called Dream Teams representing the participating countries -- the best players available, including National Hockey League stars.
'In Clarke, Gainey and Gauthier, I believe we have three of the sharpest minds in hockey,' said Nicholson. 'Clarke and Gainey are managing teams that should be top contenders for the Stanley Cup for years to come, and Gauthier has helped turn around the Ottawa franchise.
'I believe all three have impeccable credentials for the formidable, high-pressure and exciting challenge that lies ahead.'
Clarke captained the Flyers to two consecutive Stanley Cups in the early 1970s and played a key role in Canada's dramatic eight-game victory over the Soviet Union in the legendary 1972 Summit Series. As an NHL general manager, he has reached the Stanley Cup finals three times -- twice with the Philadelphia Flyers (19) and once with the Minnesota North Stars (now Dallas Stars), in 1991. His coach in Minnesota was Gainey.
In 1987, Clarke was part of a four-GM committee that helped construct the victorious Team Canada at the Canada Cup tournament. As GM of the expansion Florida Panthers, he selected the nucleus of defensive-minded stalwarts who helped make that franchise immediately competitive, and also led them to the Stanley Cup final last season.
Gainey, who won five Stanley Cups as a left winger for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s, coached the '91 North Stars team that finished 16th overall in the regular season -- qualifying last for the Stanley Cup tournament -- then stormed all the way to the finals before losing to Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
As the assistant director of scouting and chief scout for the Quebec Nordiques from 1986-1993, Gauthier was instrumental in assembling the eye popping array of talent that matured and won the Stanley Cup last season as the Colorado Avalanche. Gauthier is building the young Ottawa Senators franchise around a similar collection of outstanding young players.
Last spring, Gauthier won a silver medal as GM of Team Canada at the World Hockey Championship in Vienna. This coming May, Clarke, Gainey and Gauthier will oversee the Canadian team at the World Hockey Championship in Turku and Helsinki, Finland.
'The world championship is an important step in the process of selecting and building a successful team for the Nagano Olympics,' said Nicholson, who also oversaw the Canadian team that won a bronze medal at the World Championship in 1995.
The world championship is the only opportunity the management team will have to evaluate potential Olympic players against international competition, since the Olympic team will be chosen only days before the tournament opens on Feb. in Nagano.