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Back To His Roots

by Joseph Beguiristain / Florida Panthers
Clemmensen makes a stop against his former team, the New Jersey Devils this past season (Getty Images)

Not much could top last summer for Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen. Last year, his second daughter was born and it’s hard to beat getting married or the birth of a child. This summer, things have been a little “ho-hum” for Clemmensen as the only thing special he has done is have his daughter baptized.

In saying that, the goalie does go "home" each off-season. Every summer, the goalie heads out to his native Iowa for a week to see his family and return to his roots. Usually he would have some sort of public appearance scheduled while he is there, but that is not the case this summer.

“I don’t have anything planned for this week,” Clemmensen explained when asked about being in Iowa this past Tuesday. “Normally I do one with the Urbandale Public library, but I’m not on the docket this year.

“We just flew in (Monday) so we’ve only been here a day, so we got the whole week to see the family and visit my grandparents who live out in Western Iowa as well.”

Returning to Iowa always brings back memories for Clemmensen, who is still to this day the only NHL player born in Iowa. He hopes to be an inspiration for all those playing hockey in his home state.

“It’s [being the only Iowa born player in the NHL] definitely something that I’m proud of and take pride in and I hope that I can inspire and serve as a role model and an example of making it at the highest level,” he said.

Looking back on his time playing in youth leagues growing up, Clemmensen remembers having to travel a lot because Iowa isn’t necessarily a “hockey hot-bed.” Perhaps making his own camp or having his own school like teammate Mike Weaver might be in the making at some point in time.

“[The competition in Iowa] is getting better and I hope we’ll see more Iowans playing at the higher levels and in the NHL,” Clemmensen said. “I don’t spend a lot of time here in the summer, but hopefully that can change as my kids get a little bit older and [when I retire] [having my own camp is] always something that I think would be beneficial to the hockey community here and something that I would seriously think about doing.”

For now, Clemmensen is excited about the future for the Panthers. He’s so excited that he will be moving down to Florida in the next few weeks. He said that last season was very different from his previous two years and he thought the team definitely made some great progress moving forward.

The goalie was put into some tough situations last year and he usually came out victorious. He defeated teams like the Kings, Flyers, Canucks, Sharks, and Capitals. He finished the year with a 14-6-6 record and a 2.57 GAA.

“We obviously had a lot of new faces last year and one of those new faces included our head coach,” he recalled. “It created a very fun environment to be in and the team had some relative success throughout the season. We were fortunate enough to be in the hunt for the division title pretty much all season long.”

Clemmensen describes his relationship with starting goalie, Jose Theodore as a “healthy competition” and he was happy to see his hard work payoff with a two-year contract extension that he signed on July 1.

“To be a part of a positive transition, I got to obviously experience a lot of the things that go with it- some of the pains and some of the gains,” the ten-year vet explained. “Last year was such a fun season for me and I’ve enjoyed my time in Florida [and] I was happy to sign a two-year contract.”

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