Flyers' Shero Part of Hall Class

Article excerpt

Fred Shero can walk together forever with Hockey Hall of Famers.

Shero, a legendary NHL coach who won the Stanley Cup twice with the Philadelphia Flyers, was selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a "Builder" on Tuesday.

"If you talked to the players that played for him, they all said how much he was ahead of his time -- and if you look 40 years into the future, it's pretty amazing how right they were," said Ray Shero, the Penguins' general manager, of his late father's impact.

Fred Shero was the first NHL coach to hire a full-time assistant, rely on a system and mandate that players work with weights and study film. He also was one of the original proponents of a "morning skate" practice session on days of games -- a tactic he picked up from studying the Soviet Union Red Army squads.

He also led the transformation of the Flyers from an expansion squad into an iconic franchise.

Born in 1967, the Flyers played in -- and won -- their first Stanley Cup Final in 1974. They retained the Cup the next year and lost in the Final in 1976.

Their stars were captain Bobby Clarke and goaltender Bernie Parent, and their calling card was roughhousing, which led to their "Broad Street Bullies" nickname. However, as Penguins television broadcaster Paul Steigerwald noted, Shero's Flyers squads were equally reputable for their balance and tactical superiority.

Steigerwald was one of many within the hockey world often baffled that Shero was not already in the Hall of Fame.

"I mean, he's Freddie Shero, come on!" Steigerwald said. "He had a huge impact on the way this game is coached today. And when you think about the lasting image of those Flyers teams and you realize his connection -- you have to be aghast he wasn't already in the Hall of Fame."

Famous for his thinking deeply and leaving a room quickly, Shero won 390 games in nine seasons as an NHL coach. He also coached the New York Rangers. His clubs played in the Stanley Cup Final four times, and none of his eight playoff squads lost in the first round.

Ray Shero described his father as "a players' coach," and that was evident by the manner in which he delivered messages. Sometimes Fred Shero left a note in a player's glove, often he wrote on a chalkboard. …