One would think scoring a goal late in the 1975 Stanley Cup-clinching game would top the list of Bill Clement’s favorite personal memories.
But think again.
Actually, the former Flyer player and later national hockey broadcaster considers that goal to lock up Philadelphia’s second championship more of a “team’’ highlight.
Instead, he points out working on TV the night J.J. Daigneault blew the roof off the old Spectrum with a winning goal in Game 6 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final against one of the greatest teams of all times, the Edmonton Oilers, perhaps the most unforgettable moment.
In recent years, Clement continued to provide color and analysis alongside Flyers play-by-play man Jim Jackson on nights when Keith Jones was working the NBC/NHL desk.
But now, having recently turned 70, Clement is calling it a career. He just completed a 30-year residence in Bucks County (New Hope and later Newtown) and has moved with his family to Waynesville, North Carolina.
He can sit back and recollect those special moments, like the game which pushed the mighty Oilers to a seventh game.
“People say it was the loudest the Spectrum ever was,’’ Clement said in a recent phone interview. “Then there was 2004 (Eastern Conference finals vs. Tampa Bay), Game 6, Keith Primeau putting the Flyers on his back. And then 2010, when (Brian) Boucher stops Olli Jokinen in the shootout, then the miracle in Boston to get to the finals.’’
Through it all, Clement maintained a wry sense of humor and a slight irreverence when developments called for it.
This became evident during the notorious Easter Sunday, 1987 triple overtime playoff game between the New York Islanders and the Washington Capitals.
Clement and Mike “Doc’’ Emrick worked that game for ESPN. The match dragged on to the point where things started to get goofy. As one overtime melted into another, Clement first took off his sports jacket, then his shirt and finally wrapped his tie around his head, Rambo-style.
The shenanigans left Emrick in stitches.
“I grew up in a family (in Quebec) wanting to make my mom laugh all the time,’’ Clement explained with a chuckle. “I was kind of a class clown even before I went to school, when I was a little kid.
“Obviously when you become a professional, there is a harness that has to be administered to the sense of humor to make sure one doesn’t commit professional suicide on the air.’’
Clement said pushing the envelope got him reprimanded a time or two but things always seemed to work out.
“After 1987, with the tie around my head and doing all those impressions (there was static in the national media),’’ Clement said. “But the president of ESPN sent ‘Doc’ and me a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and thanked us for putting ESPN on the map in the hockey world.’’
It’s better to take a chance now and then.
“If you’re not willing to step out on a ledge in life in general, especially in broadcasting, you’ll be a slice of white bread on the sandwich of life.
“I always encourage young broadcasters, let your personality show through. Don’t be afraid to have fun. In the world of sports, it’s supposed to be fun. I’ve always believed that and I’ve always sort of lived by that.’’
Clement and Emrick, who also recently retired, brought out the best in each other.
“When we started, we had never been in front of national cameras before, so we held each other’s hands a lot,’’ Clement said. “We supported one another, we encouraged one another.
“I made Doc laugh. I always encouraged him to have fun on the air but always never taking away from what the true product is. The product is not the announcers, it’s the product on the ice.’’
Unquestionably, the crowning moment of Clement’s career was getting the second goal in the Flyers’ 2-0 Game 6 win at Buffalo in ’75.
He said he never kept the puck because it was all about the “team’’ win, just as it was in Game 6 in 1974 when Clement’s Flyers toppled the mighty Bobby Orr-led Boston Bruins.
“Yes, I scored one of the two goals in Game 6 but I look at it as such a privilege to contribute to our group,’’ he said. “I never would have made it as a tennis player or a golfer. . .I cherish group successes and team wins.
“I think we all did on our two Cup teams. Successful teams have to be made up of 95 percent of those players with that mentality. I was blessed to be in the lineup for both our Stanley Cup wins. For that I will be eternally grateful.’’
Clement stepped off an Amtrak train at Trenton station in 1988, took a house tour of Bucks County and stayed for three decades.
“Friendships which will live forever,’’ he said when asked what stands out in his memory about Bucks. “Places to go eat, drink, sight-see that are atypical, they’re not cookie-cutter.
“They’re original places. There’s so much of a flavor of uniqueness in Bucks. The jogging trails, the biking trails; the beauty of fall and the seasons. Everything I could possibly love was in Bucks County.’’
Clement still remains quite active with the Flyers Alumni Association.
Through the magic of Zoom calls, all the old Broad Street Bullies can relive those wonderful memories – from 1975 in Buffalo to 1987 at the Spectrum – without even leaving their couch.
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