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Paul Krome | @paulkrome
Thirty-five years after winning the Stanley Cup, Bill Clement finally got to enjoy a day with one of the most revered symbols in all of sports.
And given what he’d learned in those 35 years, he didn’t hesitate to make that day about others, and not himself.
Such has become habit for the former Philadelphia Flyer, who will deliver the keynote speech to kick off the three-day US Lacrosse National Convention, presented by Champion, at 7 p.m. Jan. 10 in the City of Brotherly Love. You can register for the convention, which has drawn 7,000 in each of the last two years, for the early-bird rate of $95 before Nov. 30 (after that, it’s $115).
I spent some time with Clement yesterday in the Philly ‘burbs and — as I had after visits with recent #LaxCon keynote speakers Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards of NFL lore — I came away a better man. A better-than-decent chance you’ll feel the same when you exit the keynote session for the typically spirited social activities that often conclude day one.
Clement was engaging, passionate and candid, about his personal defeat following a 12-year playing career, about the depression that set in, and about the steps he took to rebuild his life — all while disarming visitors to a bank he represents with a smile, an autograph and stories of Flyer lore.
I won’t steal his thunder, but three things he said can resonate with all of us:
It was not until 2009 that Clement could arrange to spend a day with the Stanley Cup following an interview with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on his radio show. Mind you, Clement helped the Flyers win league crowns in 1974 and 1975. Remembering those who had contributed to his success, he decided to help others by making the cup appearance a fundraiser. More than 3,000 people came to Bucks County, Pa., and paid for pictures with the cup and autographs, generating $65,000 for various charities Clement supports (he has daughters that battle multiple sclerosis and down syndrome).
At home that evening, with tradition dictating that no one may drink from the Stanley Cup without it being held by a champion who’s name appears on it, Clement gladly poured about 250 sips of bubbly into the mouths of close friends and committee members that helped put on the event.
The tendonitis in his arm the next morning didn’t seem to matter.
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