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Hard-fought honour, literally

Shero coached a brawling Flyers squad to two Cups

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Winnipeg-born Fred Shero, who coached the Flyers to Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, is still a revered sports figure in Philadelphia 23 years after his death.

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Winnipeg-born Fred Shero, who coached the Flyers to Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, is still a revered sports figure in Philadelphia 23 years after his death.

PHILADELPHIA -- After being snubbed for a couple of decades, Fred Shero, who directed the Flyers to Stanley Cup titles in 1974 and 1975, was elected into hockey's Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

"Long overdue," said Flyers scouting consultant Bill Barber, a former Flyers winger who is also a Hall of Famer.

Shero, who died in 1990, was an innovator, and his 1974 Flyers won the Cup just seven years after the franchise entered the NHL during expansion.

Others elected were Scott Niedermayer, Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan and Geraldine Heaney.

In a six-year span, Shero led his teams to four appearances in the Finals, including 1979 with the New York Rangers.

Some say the committee members frowned upon Shero before Tuesday because they thought the Broad Street Bullies -- the nickname given to his brawling Flyers teams of the 1970s -- soiled the NHL's image. But if that was the case, why did the Broad Street Bullies' captain (Bobby Clarke), general manager (Keith Allen) and owner (Ed Snider) earn spots in the Hall several years ago?

Since the Flyers won consecutive Cups in 1974 and 1975, only three coaches have led their teams to at least two straight titles: Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour and Glen Sather.

All are in the Hall.

Nicknamed "Freddy the Fog," Shero studied game films -- not common at the time -- and was extremely innovative. He hired a full-time assistant, started game-day morning skates, and went to Russia to incorporate parts of its game into his coaching.

"He did more innovative things in a five-year period than people did who were in the league for 30 years," former Flyer Joe Watson said.

Until Tuesday, the Hall of Fame committee members apparently felt Shero's NHL coaching tenure -- 10 years -- was too short.

During his NHL coaching career, Shero posted a 390-225-119 record, with a winning percentage of .612. Among coaches who have coached at least 10 seasons, that ranks fourth in NHL history, behind Bowman (.657), Mike Babcock (.635) and Toe Blake (.634).

Starting in 1973-74, Shero's Flyers teams had a percentage of at least .700 for four straight seasons, going 50-16-12; 51-18-11; 51-13-16; and 48-16-16.

"I can't speak highly enough about him," Barber said, adding that Shero took a lot of different personalities and "blended them all together."

No other ex-Flyers were named Tuesday, though Rod Brind'Amour, Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Jeremy Roenick received consideration.

 

-- The Philadelphia Inquirer

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2013 C4

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