Fred Shero, seen here in 1978, coached the Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons. (AP)
"He coached the Flyers for seven years. They took no prisoners, just a pair of Stanley Cup championships in '74 and '75."
- Ray Shero on his father, Fred Shero
TORONTO -- It's a ritual of Hockey Hall of Fame induction weekend for members of the selection committee to read the plaques of incoming members.
As chairman Pat Quinn read Brendan Shanahan's on Friday, he paused to go off script.
"The only player in NHL history to record 600 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes," Quinn read aloud before ad-libbing. "You can imagine him giving out the fines and the suspensions today."
That was worth a laugh, just like when fellow class of 2013 inductee Chris Chelios joked during Saturday's fan forum that "Shanny's getting too involved" in league discipline. That's now Shanahan's job as the NHL's vice president of player safety.
Playing on the edge during his 21 seasons, Shanahan put up 656 goals and 698 assists, numbers that made him worthy of induction Monday night along with defensemen Chelios and Scott Niedermayer, late coach Fred Shero, and Canadian women's team defenseman Geraldine Heaney.
- The Associated Press
TORONTO -- He said that words could not “adequately” express how honored he was that so many members of the Broad Street Bullies were there to pay homage to his father.
“It touches our heart and our families to know what you guys meant to him,” Ray Shero said, speaking of his father, Fred.
And that’s when the Penguins' general manager asked the entire Flyers contingent to stand at the Hockey Hall of Fame and be recognized by the Shero family for their turnout on the night Fred “The Fog” Shero was enshrined into hockey immortality.
“Please stand up so I can at least recognize you on behalf of my father, who you came here to recognize,” said Ray, who delivered an emotionally-eloquent speech in this, the 40th anniversary of Freddy’s first Stanley Cup team, the 1973-74 Flyers.
It was a completely unselfish moment that Ray’s father so would have appreciated, a man who was both an extrovert and introvert, wrapped up into one befuddling man whose clothes were part Bandstand, part hippie.
Indeed, it was Ray illustrating the essence of what Freddy once wrote on a chalkboard in the Flyers' dressing room: "Walk together, forever."
When Ray spoke of the Bullies, he talked of the love affair between a group of “feisty Canadian kids, who helped not only define a franchise, but the entire city and we truly are walking together forever.”
Ray pointed out the incongruities that marked his father as a person and the greatest coach the Flyers ever had. He quoted Bob Clarke from his father’s eulogy in 1990.
“Freddy was a complex man and yet a very simple man,” Clarke said at Shero’s funeral back then. “He was a loner, yet he loved an audience. He was shy, yet he was quoted extensively. He never backed down from a fight, yet he had no enemies. In short, he was Fred Shero, husband, father and coach.”
Ray went through the long list of accomplishments that enabled his father to enter the Hall through the “Builders” category, all of which have been extensively documented on CSNPhilly.com over the past four years (see story).
Many people ask why Fred felt it was important to travel to Russia the summer after the Flyers won their first Cup.
Ray gave the answer at his induction on this chilly evening.
“He who was honored yesterday will lose tomorrow if he stops practicing today,” Ray said. “And in 1975, the Flyers won their second Stanley Cup.”
Rene Fasel, president of the IIHF said Monday night that long before the NHL started signing and drafting players from Europe, that Fred alone, and no one else, “made the connection between the NHL and Europe.”
Fasel said that for many years, that specific connection was “obscured” by those who disliked what the Flyers represented in hockey.
When someone would question why Fred was so literate, so well-read, so easily lured into philosophical discussions on topics other than hockey, it was simply because ... he was that well-read.
Ray talked proudly of how his father and bragged once that when he played for the New York Rangers in the 1950s, he was the only Ranger who actually had a New York City library card.
“People said he was ahead of his time,” Ray said. “Maybe he was an innovator. Maybe it was because he was video before most. Or maybe hiring the first assistant coach in 1972, Mr. Mike Nykoluk.
“He invented the morning skate, believe it or not. Not too popular now, but back then it was. He had these systems. My dad was a big believer in repetition. Repetition led to proper execution on the ice.”
Ray recalled how his father never closed any of his practices, even during the Cup years. Someone once asked him why.
“You can watch us practice anytime,” Fred replied. “Execution, not surprises, wins championships.”
To read about Shero being fondly remembered, click here.