Bill Clement, a Renaissance man since being drafted by the Flyers in 1970, has traded in his microphone for a chainsaw.
An outdoor enthusiast who now lives in Waynesville, N.C., and can be frequently seen cutting down trees to give his family a better view of the mountains, Clement, 70, has stepped down from his job as one of the Flyers’ TV broadcasters.
Thus ends an admirable career in which he spent 16 years (over two stints) as a color analyst on Flyers telecasts. Earlier in his career, he had a 15-year tenure as the lead analyst for ESPN’s broadcasts of NHL games, and he was a studio host for NBC and Versus. In addition, he was a broadcaster at five Olympics, and his broadcast credits include work for ABC and TNT in the United States, and CBC, Sportsnet, and Sirius-XM in Canada.
He decided to step down after his last birthday on Dec. 20.
“I think the clincher was turning 70,” Clement, a center on the Flyers’ Stanley Cup championship teams in 1974 and 1975, said in a phone interview last week. “Turning 70 is kind of an awakening. How am I supposed to feel? I still feel the same as I did when I was 50 or 40 or 30, really. But I’d like to do some other things in my life that are recreational, as opposed to work. And now is the time.”
Clement or Keith Jones were the analysts who worked with play-by-play man Jim Jackson on Flyers telecasts. Jones is expected to do more games, and the network may add a broadcaster (Scott Hartnell?) as the season progresses.
“As a young broadcaster, I grew up watching Bill,” Jackson said. “He was one of the best voices around, and when I got to work with him, it was one of the rare times I worked with someone I had watched on national TV and there was a little bit of the awe factor in the beginning.”
Being in the booth with Clement “was an absolute joy,” Jackson said. “He’s a wordsmith. He has such passion for the game and passion for the Flyers, and is just a great guy. I would always wait to see what kind of metaphor he would come up with – hyenas on hamburgers when a team was all over another team. Or if a goalie made a huge leg save and he’d call it a telescopic leg.”
Clement has been either been part of a broadcast team or studio analyst since 1985. The Quebec native has also been an author, an actor – he appeared in All My Children -- and has done work for more than 300 television commercials and has served as a popular motivational speaker. He has provided his voice for EA Sports NHL video games.
“I love broadcasting and I’m still madly in love with the Flyers; it’s hard not to be when you work with the team often as we do,” said Clement, who authored the inspiring Everyday Leadership: Crossing Gorges on Tightropes to Success in 2011. “I love broadcasting the games. I’m not sure I like much else (about it) at this stage – the travel, the airports, the airplanes, the hotels, all of that. It’s a grind, and I was in position to make a decision based on what my loves are in life. Now, being able to be with my wife, travel around a little more and see our kids, who are scattered all over the place, it just seemed like time.”
Clement said concerns about traveling in a COVID-19 world also played a part in his decision.
“If I ever brought the coronavirus home to my wife and our daughter, Regan, who is 46 and has Down syndrome, I don’t know how I would ever be able to live with myself,” he said.
Clement is in love with nature. That’s why he and his wife, former longtime Bucks County residents, are living in Waynesville, which is close to Asheville and has a picturesque view of the mountains.
“We live on the side of a mountain, about 4,000 feet up,” he said.
The view is better because Clement is always clearing trees from the surrounding property.
“I love it. I can’t get enough of it. I keep pushing my body and carrying logs and stuff like that,” said Clement, a two-time NHL All-Star who spent 11 seasons with the Flyers, Washington, Atlanta, and Calgary. “I’m just going to keep doing it until I can’t anymore. I really love nature and, believe it or not, I love manual labor. I love working hard and I think that’s why I was successful at the NHL level. I didn’t have the best of anything, but my work ethic was always really good.”
Clement and has wife, Cissie, have a son, three daughters, and two grandchildren and want to be able to travel and see them more often. Regan lives at home with her parents, Savannah lives in London, England, Christa is in Ottawa, and Chase – who in 2019 was in a near-fatal motorcycle accident in which be broke several bones, underwent five surgeries, and had to learn to walk again – lives is in Philadelphia.
“There are lots of little boxes we want to check off as far as traveling and relaxing,” Clement said.
“But when I’m home,” he said with a laugh, “I always want the chainsaw in my hands. … The view is spectacular now; it wasn’t when we moved in.”
Leaving a contender
In his last stint with the Flyers, Clement worked with the team since 2007, sometimes as an in-game analyst, sometimes as a studio analyst. He is leaving the scene at a time when the Flyers look like a Stanley Cup contender. They haven’t won the Cup since 1975, when Clement scored the game-icing goal in the Game 6 clincher in Buffalo.
“I’d be shocked if they didn’t make the playoffs. They’re too good,” he said. “I think they can go really far. It’s always about players staying healthy.”
Clement says the Flyers have a distinct advantage: Carter Hart.
“I start with this: I don’t see one team in the East Division that has better goaltending than the Flyers,” he said. “Matt Niskanen is a big loss, and they’ll have to patch things up as best they can back there, but (Phil) Myers and (Travis) Sanheim are a year older, I like the blue line. I don’t like it as much as, say, Tampa Bay’s blue line, but getting Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom back is [huge]. There’s no reason the Flyers can’t go really deep” in the playoffs.
He will be watching them on the NHL’s TV package.
“They’re really well-coached,” Clement said. “And I like so many things about this team. … They have deep scoring, and their third line” – Patrick centering James van Riemsdyk and Jake Voracek – “is going to get some matchups against the third D pairings on other teams, and they’re going to eat them.”
Clement is also optimistic about 6-foot-7, 230-pound Samuel Morin, the defenseman-turned-left winger who cleared waivers last week and is on the Flyers’ taxi squad. He may be used against some of the more physical teams.
“When I heard about the experiment of him going up front, I thought, ‘This is perfect,’ " Clement said. “Now he won’t have a target on his back when he goes back to get pucks. He’ll terrorize on the forecheck. You put him in the lineup if you go to Long Island and play a tough Islanders team, or whatever. He can skate, and I really hope that works out.”
It will now be up to Jackson’s other broadcasting sidekick(s) to give a colorful analysis on Morin and the other players.
“Bill was just great to work with because you knew he was going to come up with almost poetry in the middle of a game as fast as hockey,” Jackson said. “I’m going to miss him.”