As they were raising the orange drape that covered the life-size bronze statue of Fred Shero, his son, Ray, stood less than a yard away.
Ray was amazed at how people took to his father.
“Mr. Fisher did a fantastic job with it and that’s part of the legacy I talk about,” Ray Shero said. “My kid, when they come back, they can always see that and know their grandfather was part of the Flyer family.”
The Flyers immortalized their all-time winningest coach and Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Saturday morning outside XFINITY Live! with the unveiling of the team’s newest statue that recounts club history.
This one is eight feet tall and was created by Chad Fisher.
“That was a lot bigger than I expected -- they won’t be able to miss it, that’s for sure,” Ray Shero said.
He thanked Snider for taking a chance on his father back in 1971.
“That’s the beauty of Mr. Snider,” Ray Shero said. “He’s passionate, he wants to win and to be the original owner since 1967… the city of Philadelphia is incredibly fortunate to have this guy own this hockey team and to see where this brand is right now because of Mr. Snider and his vision, it’s really great to be a part of this through my family.”
Fred Shero went into the Hockey Hall of Fame last November. Some people feel this statue should have erected long before that happened.
“To me, and the guys that played for Freddie, especially during our two Stanley Cup years, it means that Freddie is finally validated," Bill Clement, a member of those teams from 1973 through 1975, said.
“I know going into the Hall of Fame was the first step, but now he is immortalized here, thanks to Mr. Snider and thanks to the Flyers' organization. It truly is the tribute the Freddie deserved. He’s one of the greatest, and I think all my teammates would agree with me, one of the greatest men that we ever met.”
There are already statues honoring Kate Smith, Gary Dornhoefer and one of Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent carrying their first Stanley Cup around the ice in 1974, which was unveiled last season.
Shero’s also stands outside the Broad Street Bullies Pub.
“It’s a phenomenal likeness, it’s incredible,” Flyers chairman Ed Snider said. “Having known the man extremely well, you look at it and say, ‘How could they get that?’ ”
Snider was joined at the podium by several former Bullies who spoke of Shero, including Parent and Dave Schultz, who read a letter Shero sent his players after they failed to win their third straight Cup in 1976, losing to Montreal.
“I loved Fred Shero,” Schultz said. “He loved the game, loved hockey and he loved his players.”
Shero earned the nickname “The Fog” because of the many philosophical and often cryptic messages he would impart upon his players. He also had a penchant of getting lost in buildings.
He locked himself in a closet once, walked out of Buffalo’s famed Aud and couldn’t get back in. And even managed to get himself lost inside an arena, wandering around on the wrong level, unable to get back to the dressing room.
Snider told a story of having to leave his private box and find Shero at an arena once, so he could appear on television.
“He coached here, the Spectrum was here, he’s now in front of the area where we all had so many great memories and as [Ray] said, 'he’ll be remembered forever,'” Snider said. “He was one of the greatest coaches we ever had and one you would ever meet. He was so unique.
“Keith [Allen] did a great job getting the players, but I don’t think anybody could have molded them and have them performed the way Freddy did.”
Parent called Shero’s hiring “a wonderful gift” for the Philadelphia.
“Fred was very disciplined to a system but he was also a character,” Parent said. “When we go on the road and come back, think about this: the head coach and the goaltender would ride home together at night. You’re talking about risk and fear. It was scary.”
Shero’s legacy was like no other coach in this city in any sport.
Four Stanley Cup final appearances; two Cups; first coach to employ systems; first to hire assistant coaches; first to mandate in-season strength training; first to breakdown film; first to travel abroad to study Soviet influences; and among the first to mandate morning skates.
While Roger Nielsen may have been Captain Video, Shero was the Admiral.
“The way my dad was, he had a real respect for the game,” Ray Shero said. “A respect for people. I carry the same thing and it’s a privilege to be involved in the NHL and for him to have been with the Flyers, one of the best organizations in the NHL for a long time. That’s special.
“If he all these guys here still together I think he would be really proud and happy.”
The Shero family also received miniature 40-pound copies of the statue as well.