Two men with long, distinguished media careers connected to the Philadelphia Flyers are going into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Say hello to Bill Clement and Al Morganti, who will receive their awards at a Nov. 14 media luncheon in Toronto. Besides spending a bulk of their careers doing Flyers games, both worked many years on national stages.
Clement, 71, will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.
Morganti, 69, who covered the Flyers for The Inquirer from 1979 to 1989 and then went to radio and TV, earned the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism.
“The fans in Philly make the media better because they’re so jacked up that you have to be jacked up,” said Morganti, a long-time sports-talk co-host at WIP and a Flyers analyst with NBC Sports Philadelphia. “It’s no coincidence that so many good media people have come out of Philly. Just like players have to raise their game because of the fans, you have to raise your game because they know their stuff.”
Like Morganti, Clement said the honor came as a surprise.
Congrats to Inquirer alum @nufced (Al Morganti) & Bill Clement for being named to the Hockey Hall. Both were stunned to get the word. Morganti said the #Flyers fans’ passion pushed him to be a better writer. He now works for @SportsRadioWIP and @NBCSportsPhila pic.twitter.com/8DCi50W49k
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) June 15, 2022
“I never thought about this when I was broadcasting,” said Clement, a former Bucks County resident who retired two years ago and now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Waynesville, N.C. “When they told me I was unanimously going into the Hall of Fame in the broadcasting category, I said, ‘What?!’ It was a shocker, and something that was so euphoric and is still hard to process.”
Clement, who had a 15-year tenure as a lead analyst for ESPN’s broadcasts of NHL games, said he “never aspired for individual accolades. I want team rewards. And when I look at it, this is what this is. There were so many producers and play-by-play partners I’ve had over the years. I’ve had 32 play-by-play partners, and I remember saying to one of them, ‘We’re never going to be perceived as the best individuals unless we’re perceived as the best team. And that’s the truth.”
He had great chemistry with the three broadcasting partners he worked with the longest — Gary Thorne at ESPN, Mike “Doc” Emrick at ESPN and PRISM, and Jim Jackson at Comcast/NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“We worked long-term together and did major games together,” Clement said. “I did so many memorable games with them, and I always felt we wanted one another to be really good and we gave to one another. We were like hand and glove after a while.”
Clement said “the outpouring of responses from people has been amazing. I only ever did this (broadcasting) to feed my family. I wanted to be as good as I can be — that was my nature — but to have this honor is unbelievable.”
The former Flyers center said when he broke the news to his brother, Pete, and his sister-in-law, Nora, on the same phone call, he told them there would be a Hall of Fame luncheon in November.
“Damn, that’s in the middle of moose hunting!” his brother said.
Clement, a Flyers color analyst for 16 years, chuckled.
“And his wife said, ‘We won’t be moose hunting this year. We’re going to Toronto.’ ”
Clement was beyond proud to get the call to the Hall, but said his top highlight was winning Stanley Cups as a center for the 1974 and 1975 Philadelphia Flyers.
“I never had a childhood dream to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame based on a broadcasting career, but I dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup,” he said.
Morganti: Mr. Versatility
Morganti has worked primarily on radio and TV since covering the Flyers for The Inquirer. He was an NHL analyst for ESPN from 1993 to 2005.
A Boston University graduate, Morganti was surprised to get named to the Hall because he thought voters would have a difficult time differentiating whether he was on the print or broadcast side.
“I’m thrilled because I grew up writing,” he said. “… I know the work it takes writing, which is kind of the basis for everything. It was so much fun covering those (Flyers) teams in the ’80s with that group of writers.”
It was especially rewarding, he said, because he worked alongside the late Jay Greenberg, the Flyers beat writer for the Daily News from 1978 to 1989. Greenberg went into the Hall in 2013.
“It’s kind of hard to believe that two guys covering the same team at the same time” will be in the Hall, Morganti said. “I became a better writer because of Jay.”
Morganti pointed out that during that time, Jayson Stark covered the Phillies for The Inquirer and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Ray Didinger was writing for the Daily News, and he is now in the Football Hall of Fame.
Yes, it was the golden age of Philadelphia sportswriters, a group that included Bill Lyon, Stan Hochman, Mark Whicker, and Frank Dolson, among many others.
Morganti, who said it was “humbling” to go into the Hall because of his peers’ vote, covered high school and college hockey for the Boston Globe early in his career.
“I go back so far that I covered Paul Holmgren when he was with the University of Minnesota and playing against Harvard,” Morganti said.
Before going to The Inquirer, Morganti was the Flames’ beat writer in Atlanta. During his year in Atlanta, he covered Clement, then a Flames forward.
“And then we both started together at ESPN” years later, Morganti said.
They both have taken the journey together. From Philly to ESPN to the Hall of Fame. With lots of other stops in between.
“I just wish I still had a mullet to go in with,” Morganti cracked.