Clarke: I don't care if people don't like me

Bob Clarke is no stranger to criticism, but the Flyers general manager seemed to take exception to the disparaging remarks he's received over the past few days for signing Canucks center Ryan Kesler to an offer sheet.

In a telephone interview with The Sports Network of Canada, Clarke said he could "care less" if people don't like him.

"I don't give a [expletive] if nobody likes me, I could care less," Clarke told TSN. "But they shouldn't be getting mad at me, I didn't put the [offer sheet] rule in the collective bargaining agreement. If they're mad, they should call Gary Bettman and complain to him. Get mad at Gary Bettman. He's in charge of the rules, not me. I didn't realize there were some rules we're not allowed to use."

Some have suggested that Clarke shouldn't have awarded the offer sheet since Vancouver will likely match it, driving up the value of Kesler, who only had 10 goals last season.

Clarke took exception to that.

"Sure, in the old system, teams always matched offer sheets but this is a new system with a salary cap and you have to make hard decisions that affect your team not just for this year but the years to come, too," Clarke told TSN. "I don't know that Vancouver will match. Maybe we get the player. That's the idea. It's a few days to training camp, the player wasn't signed and we have a need for that type of player in our organization. Why wouldn't I try it? Everyone says it's causing salaries to go up. That's crap.

"We've all got salary caps and if it is true it drives up salaries, well, doesn't Boston signing [Zdeno] Chara to a $7 million deal or Chicago signing [Martin] Havlat to a $6 million deal drive up salaries, too? Give me a break.

"A lot of guys in this league like the rules when it suits them and they don't like them when it doesn't. Too bad for them. I'm just playing by the rules that are there. To be honest, I'm surprised more teams aren't doing it."

If Vancouver matches the offer sheet, NHL rules prohibit Kesler from being traded for a one-year period. Either way, Clarke said he knew he would be criticized for the move.

"I'm trying to make my team better," Clarke told TSN. "There's a rule that says we can put out offer sheets. So I did it. You know, it's funny, they made new rules so we're operating in a system where we all get to spend the same amount of money.

"Philadelphia and Detroit can't spend any more than Nashville or Anaheim. Those are the rules. We all live by them. No one can accuse Philadelphia or Detroit of spending more money than everyone else now. But when I go and use a rule that is there, everybody is all over me about it."