After years of being snubbed, the late Fred Shero, who coached rough-and-tumble yet highly-skilled Philadelphia Flyers teams to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in the 1970s, was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame Tuesday.
“I am thrilled to hear that Fred Shero was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame,” Flyers chairman and founder 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 deserves it immensely has finally been elected to the Hall Fame. It’s a great day for the Philadelphia Flyers.”
Under Shero’s leadership, the Flyers won the Stanley Cup during the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons and were the first expansion team to capture the trophy. Coaching the Flyers and New York Rangers over a 10-year NHL career, Shero complied a record of 390 wins, 225 losses and 119 ties (no shootout in those days).
Shero, who died in 1990, was a hockey innovator: he was the first NHL coach to hire a full-time assistant coach; the first to visit the Soviet Union and incorporate the Soviet hockey system into his own; the first to employ in-season strength training; the first to study and break down game film; and among the first to employ morning skates.
“The Hall of Fame is for people who have done things for the sport of hockey,” Bob Clarke, who captained Shero’s Cup teams, told CSNPhilly.com in 2009. “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 the minor league level and he was way ahead of his time.”
Despite his accomplishments, the Hall had repeatedly denied Shero while enshrining Flyers Snider, Clarke, left wing Bill Barber and general manger Keith Allen. Some suggested that the exclusion was payback by the hockey establishment for Shero coaching teams where fighting and intimidation were part of the game plan.
The Flyers earned the nickname “Broad Street Bullies” from the physical exploits of winger Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, Don “Big Bird” Saleski, Bob “The Hound” Kelly, and Andre “Moose” Dupont even though the team also featured skill players like Clarke, Barber, left wing Reggie Leach and goaltender Bernie Parent.