It is every peewee goalie’s dream to play in the National Hockey League. But does anyone actually dream of solidifying his post as a forever-backup?
Netminder Scott Clemmensen—having played the “best supporting actor” role for the Devils, Leafs, and now, Panthers—takes an enlightening approach on the way his life has transpired. Our own Rakhee Kulkarni chatted with Scott:
After being drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the 8th Round, 215th overall, of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Scott Clemmensen spent the next four years at Boston College. Growing up in the shadow of one Sir Martin Brodeur in NJ, Clemmensen has taken it all in stride.
Of his 12 years retained by the Devils organization, five were allocated to the NHL and seven were to the AHL affiliate. (There was a two-year break between his 10th and 11th year with the Devils, where he spent time with the Maple Leafs organization.)
During the first four years in which he had the chance to play with the Devils, Scott only played 25 games. Still, the giddy child inside never ceased to remember just how lucky he is. “I can’t complain. I get to play a kid’s game for a living so [I] go out there and do the best [I] can under the circumstances, and with the hand that [I’ve been] dealt,” Clemmensen said.
“For me, breaking into the league with Marty Brodeur, it was tough to get playing time. So I kind of carved out a niche for myself being a backup. That was the hand I was dealt, and if that was it, I was going to be the best backup that I could be. I look back and of course, I would’ve liked to [have been] a starting goalie or [have] gotten more of an opportunity, but this is my 13th year as a pro and I’m not going to complain because that’s not my personality.”
Speaking of Scotty’s personality, he’s got one of the best in the business, which is why he handles the pressures of both failure and success so well. Every reporter’s dream news source, he will oblige and answer candidly and will even joke around despite a tough loss. Now that is a class act.
This season as a Florida Panther—and backup to Tim Thomas and now Roberto Luongo—Clemmensen is 6-7-1 with a 3.09 GAA. Needless to say, it has been another challenging season for him to get the start.
But, he finds his time with the Panthers—and the NHL—to have been precious. Scott said, “It’s been a great group of guys here during my entire five years with the Panthers. I don’t know what’s going to happen in my future. As it is right now, I’m taking it one day at a time and appreciating everything.
“Regardless of what happens, I’m going to look back and know that I’ve laid it all on the line and had no regrets. At the same time, it has been a privilege playing for the Panthers in the NHL,” said Scott.
Clemmensen’s contract is up at this season’s end. He admits he will do everything he can to further his playing career. “I’m not going to look back and say, ‘What if I had tried a little harder?’ At least I know I did everything possible.”
Among all his grueling days, there were the gratifying, silver-lining ones for Scott Clemmensen. When asked which team was the most fun to play for, he reminisced and told this tale: “One of the highlights so far was the 40-game stretch I played with the Devils in the ‘08-‘09 season. That was a lot of fun and my teammates voted me the ‘Unsung Hero’ that year. That really meant something to me.”