Fred Shero inducted to Hockey Hall of Fame

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Fred Shero inducted to Hockey Hall of Fame

Finally, Freddy the Fog gets his due.
 
Fred Shero, the greatest coach in Flyers history, has been voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 
The announcement came Tuesday in Toronto.
 
“I am thrilled to hear that Fred Shero was elected to the HHOF,” Flyers chairman Ed Snider said. "There's no sense looking back as to why it didn't happen sooner, because today's a happy day to celebrate the fact that a guy that deserves it immensely has finally been elected to the Hall of Fame. It's a great day for the Philadelphia Flyers.”
 
Shero joins the 2013 class in the Builders Category, and only one coach is elected per year. The other nominee there was the late Pat Burns.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero -- son of Fred -- told CSNPhilly.com, "This is a great honor for my dad and our family since he isn't here for it. Better late than never! I have always appreciated your support of my father over the years. I am glad he has finally received his due. Hopefully it will open doors for other coaches on the builder category.

"He was always about his players, so I know he would want to thank them for making this happen. Also to Mr. Snider and Mr. (Keith) Allen for giving him his chance in the NHL back in 1971. I know people like them and Bob Clarke have pushed for this a long time." 

Joining Shero from the players' side was Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan. Geraldine Heaney, a 2002 Olympic gold medalist, became the third woman elected. Eric Lindros was again turned down.
 
Shero brought two Stanley Cups to the Flyers in 1974 and 1975, but his legacy as a coach far exceeds that.
 
“Win today and we walk together forever,” he scribbled on a blackboard before Game 6 of the Cup Final in 1974 against Boston.
 
Shero won that day, but would never know how difficult it would be to “win” a seat at the Hall of Fame years later.
 
It has taken decades for Shero to be inducted. He resigned from the Rangers 20 games into the 1981 season. That was the last time he coached.
 
Shero’s coaching career spanned a brief 10 year years in NHL, after nearly 15 as a successful minor league coach.
 
His achievements, well, they not only outlasted him but also will stand forever:
 
· Four Stanley Cup final appearances
· Two Cups
· First coach to employ systems
· First to hire assistant coaches
· First to employ in-season strength training
· First to breakdown film
· First to travel abroad to study Soviet influences
· Among the first to use morning skates
 
“The Hall of Fame is for people who have done things for the sport of hockey,” said Clarke, the greatest player Shero coached, for a series of stories in 2009 on CSNPhilly.com pushing for Shero’s induction. “Freddy did that. He was ahead of Roger Neilson for using video. He was ahead of other coaches for using system hockey. He won at them minor league and NHL level and he was way ahead of his time.
 
“Sometimes we forget. It’s not the National Hockey League Hall of Fame. It’s the Hockey Hall of Fame. That’s why Europeans are getting in and it’s why lots of outstanding minor leaguers from different eras never were thought about as being Hall of Famers, but probably should have been. Freddy’s NHL record is good enough to get in and put on his minor league record and he’s Hall of Fame material.”
 
Shero coached 734 NHL games and won 390. Two years after leaving the Rangers, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The disease eventually took his life in 1990.
 
Shero read books constantly. It was fabric for his coaching career.
 
“Some of the things he did at the time, players thought was off the wall,” recalled Lou Lamoriello, general manager of the New Jersey Devils. “But I believe, too, he was somewhat of a disciple of Lloyd Percival’s hockey handbook and I remember Fred talking about that on different occasions.”
 
Percival’s “The Hockey Handbook” was published in 1951, six years before Shero began his minor league coaching career. Shero reportedly memorized the book, and used it as tool for future study.
 
It was one of many books that influenced his life behind the bench. And not every book was on hockey, either.
 
“He was really big on John Wooden and had a lot of Wooden stuff around the house and books,” Ray Shero said.
 
“Dad saw how [Wooden] used his psychology of reading people at UCLA as applicable to hockey. My dad was pretty quiet, but if he trusted you, he would engage you and talk for hours about things. He was a big, big reader and even on Russian history. After the first Cup, he went to Russia and brought my mom for three weeks. He met with Boris Mikhailov and took Lou Vairo over there. It was a hockey seminar. He must have met with Viktor Tikhonov, too. He really loved it.”

Ray Shero called his father an innovator.

“He won a championship at every level he coached at. The contribution and innovation he made to the game, if you talk to the players who played for him and not me, he was ahead of his time," Ray Shero said. "He delved into the Soviet way of hockey way before when, the video, the assistant coaches. I have a lot of his stuff still today.
 
“Forty years into the future, some of the stuff he did was pretty amazing. I always thought he was deserving."
 
For a man who smoked too much and drank too much, Shero believed in fitness for his players. He introduced them to a funny looking machine. You might say it was the prehistoric predecessor to a Universal or Nautilus equipment.
 
“He had this contraption called The Apollo with ropes all over it,” Ray Shero recalled. “Guys would use it off ice. It was a tube with ropes, similar to bands we have now.”
 
Said Clarke, “We were the first team that had off-ice training with the Apollo machine, which was weight training. No one else was doing that.”
 
Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said that Shero had a unique way of motivating people simply by a touch.
 
“He was innovative in how he tried to motivate people,” Davidson said. “He could do things even through his hands. He would find ways to touch you on the bench [to send a message]. He was a man of few words.”
 
Clarke said Shero’s bench strategy was simply to keep players' minds in the game.
 
“He’d walk up and down the bench, ‘how much time left in the period,’ ” Clarke said. “Bleep Freddy, look it up yourself. But his game plan was, if there were five minutes left to play, this is how he wanted us to play. He wanted everyone to know how much time was left on the clock. None of us had ever seen this approach.”
 
Or his approach after losses.
 
“He would have 8 a.m. practices,” Clarke said. “If you lost a game, the next day practice was low key, almost lackadaisical. But if you won, he would work the hell out of you. He always felt if you were winning, you could get more work out of a man.
 
“If you were losing, your energy was low, and let’s get it back and not waste it in practice. But when we won, and we won a lot, we practiced. It’s the exact opposite philosophy of coaches today where if a team plays bad, they skate the hell out of you. He never did that. His practices were always for the purpose to get better.”

Best of NHL: Bruins snap 4-game skid, beat Islanders, move into playoff position

Best of NHL: Bruins snap 4-game skid, beat Islanders, move into playoff position

NEW YORK -- Riley Nash scored twice and backup goalie Anton Khudobin made 18 saves as the Boston Bruins beat the New York Islanders 2-1 Saturday night, snapping a four-game losing streak.

Nash broke a 1-1 tie with his second goal of the contest at 4:12 of the third period, beating Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss from the slot for his seventh goal of the season. Dominic Moore assisted on the decisive goal, which lifted Boston two points ahead of the Islanders for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

John Tavares scored for New York and Greiss finished with 16 saves.

Tavares had a golden chance to knot the score with just over six minutes left in the third period but rang the puck off the crossbar with the Islanders on their sixth power play of the game (see full recap).

Eichel, Sabres slow Leafs' push to clinch playoff berth
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored twice and set up another goal in the Buffalo Sabres' 5-2 win that slowed the youth-laden Toronto Maple Leafs' late-season surge to clinch a playoff berth.

Ryan O'Reilly and Dmitry Kulikov each had a goal and assist, and Evander Kane also scored in a game the Sabres took control of by scoring three straight times in the second period. Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots, and the Sabres continued their home dominance over their cross-border rivals by improving to 18-2-1 against Toronto in their last 21 games at Buffalo.

The Maple Leafs' hold on third-place in the Atlantic Division dwindled in having a three-game winning streak end and losing in regulation for just the second time in their past 10 (7-2-1). With 85 points, Toronto has a one-point edge over Boston after the Bruins beat the New York Islanders.

Auston Matthews scored his 34th to tie Toronto's single-season rookie record set by Wendel Clark in 1985-86. Connor Brown also scored for Toronto (see full recap).

Marchessault's hat trick helps Panthers blow out Blackhawks
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Jonathan Marchessault scored his first career hat trick, James Reimer stopped 25 shots for his first shutout of the season and the Florida Panthers routed the Chicago Blackhawks 7-0 on Saturday night.

Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and three assists, and Aleksander Barkov added a goal and two assists for Florida. Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad also scored to give the Panthers their largest margin of victory since an 8-0 win over Toronto on Feb. 5, 2008.

Marchessault had two goals in a 3-1 win over Arizona on Thursday. He has nine goals over his last nine games and leads the Panthers with 28.

Corey Crawford stopped 21 shots for the Blackhawks before being lifted at 4:59 of the third for Scott Darling, who allowed three goals on six shots.

Already leading 3-0, the Panthers poured in four goals in the third (see full recap).

Caps top Coyotes as Ovechkin reaches 30 goals for 12th straight season
WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin recorded his 30th goal of the season and Daniel Winnik scored two goals, including the game-winner late in the third period, as the Washington Capitals overcame listless stretches to beat the lowly Arizona Coyotes 4-1 on Saturday night.

Ovechkin became the third player in league history to score 30-plus goals in each of his first 12 seasons, joining Mike Gartner (15) and Wayne Gretzky (13).

Winnik scored with 4:39 remaining, Justin Williams added another goal not long and Winnik sealed the Capitals' fourth consecutive victory with an empty-netter.

Braden Holtby made 28 saves for Washington, which has won five of six to reach an NHL-leading 106 points and keep pace atop the competitive Metropolitan Division. The Capitals are three points up on the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mike Smith stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced and Peter Holland scored the lone goal for Arizona (see full recap).

Flyers-Blue Jackets 10 observations: Strong effort not enough to overcome Sergei Bobrovsky

Flyers-Blue Jackets 10 observations: Strong effort not enough to overcome Sergei Bobrovsky

From Winnipeg to Minnesota to Columbus, the Flyers' final long road trip made its third stop Saturday afternoon in Ohio against a rather imposing Blue Jackets team.

The Blue Jackets clinched a playoff berth earlier in the week and in this one, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky earned his seventh shutout with a 1-0 victory -- his 40th this season, which is a career-high and a Columbus franchise record (see game story).

Dave Hakstol's team played a ferocious game -- two in succession now -- and demonstrated the urgency needed, even though its playoff odds took another turn for the worse.

The overall impact on the wild card remained temporarily unknown because of the Bruins-Islanders game to be played later Saturday night, but regardless of who wins, the Flyers will fall eight points out of the wild card.

The Flyers end their four-game road trip Sunday night in Pittsburgh in the back end of the back-to-back, where Steve Mason is expected to start in net.

Here are 10 things I think, I think.
 
1. Nationwide Arena hasn't been kind to the Flyers, who are now 0-5-5 in the building since December 2008. To say the Blue Jackets own the Flyers would be an understatement given they've won 13 of the last 15 games going back to Dec. 21, 2013.
 
2. Hakstol dusted off Michal Neuvirth for the front end of this back-to-back. Neuvirth's only start before Saturday was March 9 in Toronto, when Hakstol came under criticism for using him instead of riding Mason, who was on a 3-0-1 hot streak at the time. Saturday was just Neuvirth's third appearance in March, including in relief at New Jersey on March 16. He's been understandably rusty, yet he was very good in this game.
 
3. Hakstol, as he often does after a win, stuck with the same lineup he used during Thursday's 3-1 victory in Minnesota, which meant that rookie Travis Konecny -- who played less than 10 minutes against the Wild -- was again buried on the fourth line. He finished with 12:17 against the Blue Jackets.
 
4. Hakstol has pulled his goalie many times in the past with almost two minutes left on the clock. Why did he wait until the final 48 seconds Saturday to pull Neuvirth? What did he have to lose with a playoff berth on the line?
 
5. There is little question the Flyers' trading of Bobrovsky ranks among their top five worst trades in club history orchestrated just because of the team's enormous monetary commitment to Ilya Bryzgalov, who is chasing bears in the woods of South Jersey these days. All "Bob" has done in Columbus is win a Vezina Trophy and is the favorite for the award again this season. He is also among the candidates this season for the Hart Trophy. Bobrovsky came into the game 7-1 against the Flyers all-time with a 1.85 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. Bobrovsky had three saves on Wayne Simmonds alone in a scoreless first period and finished with 36 overall.
 
6. Nick Foligno has always been a Flyers killer over his career. The talented winger came into play with 21 points (14 goals) in 28 career games against the orange and black. The flyers shut him down Saturday, as Foligno had just two shots in the game.
 
7. The Flyers' penalty kill units were active with their sticks and attacking the puck on Columbus from all sides -- not allowing the Jackets a good setup. Ian Laperriere's PK units improved toward the end of this trip. The Blue Jackets were 0 for 2.
 
8. An unfortunate break of the stick for Simmonds led to Columbus' only goal late in the second period off an Alex Wennberg redirection. If Simmonds had his stick, Kyle Quincey doesn't outreach him for the puck near the blue line. Instead, it's a shot on net that's deflected for the eventual game-winner.
 
9. The Flyers' second power-play unit with Jordan Weal and Konecny produced four shots in the closing minutes of that second period, but again Bobrovsky was the ultimate difference then and in the final eight seconds with a save on Jakub Voracek and subsequent rebound scrum in front. Joey Mullen's power play has collapsed at the end -- 3 for 43 during the month of March. It was 0 for 3 in this game.
 
10. No criticism of the Flyers in this one. They did everything they could to win. That's all you can ask against a goalie that outright owns you. Again, however, the level of desperation they showed in this and the Wild loss should have been exhibited over a month ago.