Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero was kind enough to spend nearly an hour on the phone with FanHouse's Adam Gretz discussing a variety of topics. This is the first of a three-part series that will run throughout the remainder of the offseason. Wednesday's entry: Ray Shero discusses the impact his father -- former player and Stanley Cup winning coach Fred Shero -- had on the game of hockey, as well as Fred's chances for induction in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
A decade ago, the Philadelphia Daily News polled its readers and the fanatical sports fans in the city of brotherly love in an effort to name the greatest coach in Philadelphia's storied sports history. In a town that has housed Connie Mack and Dick Vermiel, just to name a select few, it was former Flyers head coach Fred Shero that came out on top. Shero was the bench boss for the Broad Street Bullies from 1971 through 1978, leading the franchise to its only two Stanley Cup championships during the '73-'74 and '74-'75 seasons. During that time Fred's son, Ray Shero, spent a large portion of his childhood hanging around the club.
Part 1: On His Father, an Icon
Part 2: On the Anatomy of a Trade
Part 3: On Building the Pens, Defending the Cup
"I was a huge Flyers fan growing up and it's hard to say that now that I'm the Penguins manager," laughed Ray.
"Bobby Clarke was probably my idol growing up. They had some really good players and a number of Hall of Famers that played on that team: Billy Barber, Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, some really, really good players. They could all really play, but Bobby Clarke was the guy I really liked the best growing up."
"I really think he's due some serious consideration for what he's provided the sport and the mark he made on it. ... I've actually had some people in the past really heavily involved in the sport who thought my dad was already in the Hall of Fame. They were surprised he wasn't."He continued: "It was great in those years, it was such a big impact on that city. Those teams that won the Cup, even now, those guys are held in the highest regard."
Twenty years after he coached his final game in Philadelphia (he coached parts of three seasons with the Rangers following his stint with the Flyers), Fred Shero is still the winningest coach in team history, compiling a 308-151-96 record with the Flyers. Overall, he won 390 games in the NHL, two Stanley Cups, coached in the Finals four times, won the Jack Adams award as coach of the year, and won multiple championships in the minor leagues prior to his NHL coaching days.
While the win totals and hardware are impressive, they only scratch the surface when it comes to his contributions to the game and the argument for his enshrinement in Toronto.
"He just had a really big impact on the sport," said Ray Shero. "As for the assistant coach thing, it's funny. There's so many assistant coaches now, and goaltender coaches, he was the first one to have an assistant and back in 1972 when that happened it was ... well, the question was 'this guy can't be very smart if he needs help.' And now it's unheard of to think a coach won't have an assistant, or two, or three, or four of them. It was great, and I always ask our assistant coaches and people, I ask them, 'do you have any idea who the first assistant coach was in the NHL?' And a lot of people don't know who that was. And that's kind of a shame, too."
Back in July, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia had a two-part series on Fred Shero going into far greater detail on all of these subjects, and also campaigning for Shero's induction in Toronto. There's also some online petitions floating around the internet in an effort to help get him in.
"I wasn't really aware of that," said Ray Shero regarding the petitions. "But I was well aware of the fact there have been some writers that have really made a big push. I know the Flyers made a big push, and from my standpoint, and my mom's standpoint we certainly appreciate it.
So what's it going to take to get him in?
"I really think he's due some serious consideration for what he's provided the sport and the mark he made on it," said Ray Shero. "Certainly that goes to the Hockey Hall of Hame committee, but just from a personal standpoint we really appreciate that everybody has brought this back to the forefront. I've actually had some people in the past really involved heavily in the sport who thought my dad was already in the Hall of Fame. They were surprised he wasn't."
"We're just very appreciative of the fact people are making the push."