Hall Of Fame Profile

Hall Of Fame Profile

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Fred Shero

Induction into Flyer Hall Of Fame - March 1990

Induction into Hockey Hall Of Fame - Sept. 2013

Fred Shero's 74-75 "Rookie" Card

Shero was born on October 23, 1925, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Shero was a bantam boxing champion while serving in the Navy before playing professional hockey. Fred played for the Brooklyn Crescents, New-York Rovers, New-Haven Ramblers and St.-Paul Saints in the minor leagues before getting his chance with the New York Rangers. It was during one of these games that Shero earned the nickname "Freddy the Fog". Despite what you may read elsewhere (including even the Flyers official website !) Shero did NOT earn his nickname from often getting lost in thought or by his tendency to slip in and out of rooms without being noticed. During a 1947-48 United States Hockey League game in St.Paul, the fog was so bad during the game it was postponed. The only player who claimed he could still see the puck was Freddy.

Playing defense for the Rangers, Shero scored his 1st NHL goal on November 6th, 1948 in a 2-1 loss against Detroit. Fred would end up with 6 goals, 14 assists and 137 penalty minutes in 145 games over 3 seasons in the NHL (all with the Rangers). Fred would play 8 more years in the minors in New Haven, Cincinnati , Seattle, Cleveland, Winnipeg and Shawinigan Falls before retiring as a player and taking up coaching. Although Fred didn't start coaching in the minors until 1958, he showed coaching ability years before. In 1943 the red line came into effect. Most teams played a dump and chase game. Shero while still a player came up with the system to carry the puck over the blue line rather than dumping it in. Then in 1945 while playing for Fred Metcalfe with the New York Rovers, Shero worked with Metcalfe to devise the "box formation" while killing penalties - this is still used today. Fred played his last season with the Shawinigan Falls Cataract in 1957-58 . The year after he retired he took over as coach of the team.

Shero's 1st year
coaching the Flyers
Before coaching the Flyers Shero would coach minor league teams in St. Paul, Omaha and Buffalo in the Rangers' system. While in St.Paul Shero had several colourful episodes. During one game he saw fans leaving with his team leading 7-1, so he pulled his goalie midway in the 3rd period (the game ended 7-3). He did the same stunt again in a 5-0 game that he won 7-5. Shero would end up coaching for 13 years in the minors, taking one year off to operate a leather goods factory. His teams finished first place 6 times (5 of those first place finishes where in his last 7 years of coaching) and championships with Omaha and Buffalo. Coaching in the Ranger's system, Shero thought he'd never get a chance to coach in the NHL with Emile "The Cat" Francis as their longtime coach. He was about to forget about pro hockey and take a job coaching in college when the Flyers offered him the job.
When Shero started to coach the Flyers' he immediately implemented a system. "Other teams have each line playing a different system depending on if they are a scoring or checking line. On the Flyers every line and player plays the same system, whether the player is a superstar or one the forth line", Shero explained. Shero was one of the first coaches ever to implement a team-wide system When the Flyers ended up losing a playoff spot on the last day of the season in Shero's first year with the Flyers, he claimed "I felt like dying - or like I had actually done so". The Flyer's offense (200 goals) was worst in league, so Shero hired Mike Nykoluk as the 1st ever NHL assistant coach, to work on the power play. His decision worked - the team became the highest scoring in western conference and won their 1st playoff series ever. But now the Flyers had the 6th worst GAA. Shero was a defensive specialist and now that the offense was repaired it was time to work on defense. Bernie Parent coupled with Shero's teaching made the Flyers had become the league best defensive team, without sacrificing much offense. With their hard play, the Flyers became scorned throughout the NHL and opposition fans. After the third game of a playoff series against the Atlanta Flames, Shero was mugged outside the Flames arena (the Omni). Shero would come back and later coach the underdog Flyers to the finals against the more highly skilled Bruins. To deflect attention of his players Shero claimed he was going to quit coaching after the finals "I want to go back to school, and if we win the cup I'll have enough money to do so". Shero had little intention of doing that but it helped the Flyers build a 3-1 games lead against Boston.
Shero toasts Clarke's for
his first Hart trophy win
Shero in front of
his blackboard
Shero's blackboard messages became a staple in the Flyers lockerroom. They tended to be philosophical in nature, and as Joe Watson once said, sometimes it would be weeks before the players understood what Shero meant. One May 19th 1974 with the Flyers just one win away from a championship title, Shero had what would become a famous saying on the blackboard whose meaning was unmistakable:

"Win together today !!! and we walk together forever !!!"

The Flyers would win that game, becoming Stanley Cup champions. As Shero would later say, "It isn't always the more highly skilled team that wins - that's why you have coaches". Shero would win the first ever Jack Adams award as coach of the year for his performance.
Not sitting on his laurels, days after winning the Cup, Shero would visit the Soviet Union. Fred initially met Antoli Tarasov in 1961 and wanted to meet him again to study the Russian's training techniques. He became the first to advocate adopting Russian techniques in the NHL. "They play a five man attack system where every player goes off and a fresh 5 man unit goes on. I've done this with the Flyers, but there are cases where I'll go with Clarke in critical situations" Shero's team improved and defeated the Buffalo Sabres for their second straight Stanley Cup that season. Before the win, Shero had another slogan on his blackboard.

"A man with a dream of pleasure can go forth and conquer a crowd and three. With a new song's measure can trample a kingdom down"

In the celebration of their second Cup, Shero exclaimed, "This is better than heaven. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I've had 3 lucky days, the day I got married, the day we won last year and last night when we won again"
Shero after being mugged
ouside Altanta's Omni in 1974
It's not what you think -
Shero just got hit by the puck
while he was behind the bench
Shero, the man, remained a mystery to his team. But his players did know that he dedicated his life to the team and to winning. For that his players committed themselves to him. Under Shero the players developed an attitude that when an opposing player challenged one, he challenged all. Shero preached hard work and courage. "Nobody on our team missed practice in two years, not even the ones injured", Shero claimed in 1975. "they don't want to miss the laughs. I don't think that you can instruct anyone unless you amuse them first" Shero realized that with professional athletes you had to keep them interested to keep them practicing. To vary things Shero would have the Flyers practice with tennis balls instead of pucks. At other times he would have them undergoing the same training exercises that NASA used to train astronauts. Not only were these techniques unique, they worked. "I've learned more in Philadelphia in three years then I would have learned anywhere else in eight, and it's all because of Fred", Bill Barber claimed. Along the way, Shero became the first coach to start a morning skate - something every NHL team now does.
There were many aspects to Shero's philosophies. "there are 4 corners to a rink and a pit in front of the net. You have to hold your ground. There isn't a man on the team who is afraid to go into a corner and hit someone". Every player on his team would receive 2 copies of Shero's commandments - one for his locker the other for his wallet. His "bible" was his formula to winning :

1) Never go offside on a three on two or two on one
2) Never go backwards in your own end except on a powerplay
3) Never throw a puck out blindly from behind your opponent's net
4) Never pass diagonally across ice in your own end unless 100% certain
5) Wings on wings in neutral zone - unless intercepting a pass
6) Second man go all the way in for a rebound
7) Defense with puck at opponents' blue line -
look at each teammate before shooting
8) Wing in front of opponents' net must face puck and lean on stick
9) Puck carrier over center with no room and no one to pass to must shoot puck in
10) No forward must ever turn his back on the puck
11) No player must be more than two zones away from puck
12) Never be outnumbered in defensive zone
13) On delayed penalty puck carrier must look for extra man
14) Be alert to time left on opponent's penalty
Shero's tinted glasses became
a fixture behind the Flyers
bench during the 1970's
Shero at press conference
announcing him as the new
coach of the Rangers
By 1978-79 the Shero's magic seemed to have worn off the Flyers, saying, "I've done all I can do to motivate this team" He resigned from the team on May 22, 1978 and despite saying he wasn't interested in coaching was quickly signed by the team that he thought he'd never be able to coach: the New York Rangers. Since Shero was still under contract the Flyers got a first round coach in compensation, which turned out to be Ken Linseman. Shero coached the Rangers to the Stanley Cup finals that year, beating out the Flyers along the way, eventually losing out to the Canadiens. The next year the Rangers failed to make it past the quarter finals and Shero was thinking about retiring. The Rangers' persuaded Shero to remain with a $5 million contract, but changed their mind and fired him during the 80-81 season. Shortly thereafter Shero became the radio colour analyst for the New Jersey Devils. For much of this time Fred looked for another NHL job that never came. He did take one last coaching job for Tilburg, Holland, for the 1987-88 season.
The Flyers had Shero return to the team as a community relations adviser in 1990. Unfortunately by this time Fred was very sick as a result of stomach cancer. The disease took his life on November 24, 1990. When looking back at all his accomplishments and innovations, it is truly a crime that Shero is not in the Hall of Fame. Shero holds most major team coaching records : wins (308), winning % (.642), seasons (7) and playoff wins (48). Coupled with all the innovations mentioned above Shero is truly deserving of Hall Of Fame status. To help with the campaign, click on the button below.

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