Humble and helpful, Morganti, Clement headed for Hockey Hall of Fame originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
As Al Morganti received the news of his Hockey Hall of Fame honor, Keith Jones was completely surprised.
Not that Jones didn't think his pal was deserving. He just had no idea it was coming.
"In typical Al fashion," Jones said.
"I go to dinner with him like three times a week, so that just tells you what Al's like."
Morganti, an old-school reporter who has always strived to tell the story, not be the story, is making the headlines this time alongside the classy Bill Clement. On Tuesday, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced that Morganti and Clement will be enshrined as media honorees.
For excellence in hockey journalism, Morganti was named the recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Clement is set to receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster, an honor from the NHL Broadcasters Association.
Both to be enshrined with Philadelphia flavor on Nov. 14 in Toronto.
Morganti is currently a Flyers Pregame and Postgame Live analyst for NBC Sports Philadelphia, as well as a cohost on the WIP Sports Radio morning show. Among his past beat reporting jobs, Morganti covered Jones and the Flyers for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"A great honor, it's well-deserved," Jones, now an NHL and Flyers color commentator, said Wednesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. "He was one of the go-to guys that all of us would look up, read and follow before social media gave you access to follow everybody. Al was always a writer that was well-respected, did his homework. Maybe didn't have the same resources that people have today, but found a way to be resourceful and just did an outstanding job."
Jones can recall seeing Morganti's byline back in November 1998 when the winger was traded from the Avalanche to the Flyers.
To no surprise, Morganti covered it well. His professionalism throughout his time as a beat reporter garnered the eyes of iconic Flyers founder Ed Snider.
"He was always an honest and fair writer, but someone that, without question, put the work in to make sure that he got the story accurate," Jones said. "He often told the tough stories, as well, which is something that I know Mr. Snider respected about Al. He didn't run and hide from it. He made sure that the Flyers were interesting, win or lose."
Clement, a member of the Flyers' back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning teams in the 1970s, also became a champion in the broadcast booth. Along with broadcasting Flyers games, Clement called four Olympics, over 20 Stanley Cup Final series and was featured on ESPN, NBC, ABC, TNT, CTV, CBC and Rogers Sportsnet.
“It was an absolute honor to share the booth with Bill for selected games and the playoffs for almost a decade and a half," longtime Flyers play-by-play announcer Jim Jackson said Wednesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. "I had watched Bill on the national stage for so many years prior that at first, I just had to get by the awe factor. But eventually, it was just a great experience working with someone who loved his craft and the game of hockey so much."
Clement's personality, smarts and smoothness set him apart as a color commentator. The passionate outdoorsman and family man retired in January 2021.
"He is a true wordsmith, capable of putting a moment into perspective with concise analysis, often sprinkled with wit and humor," Jackson said. "I have been blessed to work with some of hockey’s very best analysts during my time in Philly and Bill Clement is certainly one of those.
"I’m biased because Bill is now a friend of course, but it was only a matter of time before he received the Foster Hewitt honor. So richly deserved!"
Similar to Clement, Jones entered the broadcasting world following his playing days.
Instead of Morganti reporting on him as a player, he was now working alongside Jones in the media realm.
"He's a great guy. He hides it well, but he's a great guy," Jones said. "I enjoy his company. He's also been really good at giving good advice when I first started in the media. Somebody that I could trust when I was just getting my feet wet. You need people like that when you're just getting going."
Do you think he'll make you call him Hockey Hall of Famer?
"That's how he signs his name now," Jones said jokingly with a laugh. "Whenever he signs it, 'HOF.' He can't spell Al Morganti, but he can do 'HOF.' He's come a long way."