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Legendary Flyers coach Shero part of Hockey Hall of Fame Class

| Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 7:51 p.m.

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.

Before Game 6 of the 1974 Final with the Flyers, Shero famously told his players, “Win today and we walk together forever.”

That saying remains as prominent to the Flyers as “Badger” Bob Johnson's “It's a great day for hockey” is to the Penguins, but Shero actually first used it as a junior coach with the Moose Jaw Canucks in 1959.

Ray Shero, recently selected as General Manager of the Year by his NHL peers, said he had “never given up hope” of his father's induction into the Hall of Fame.

“But put it this way: I was down at the AHL meetings in Hilton Head (S.C.), and the Hall of Fame people were trying to call me,” Ray Shero said. “I was on the beach playing football with my boys, and I missed the call.”

The Hockey Hall of Fame inductions will take place Nov. 11 in Toronto.

Fred Shero, who died in 1990, will be inducted posthumously. Three former NHL stars and a women's hockey pioneer will join him.

• Brendan Shanahan, a winger that scored 656 goals and won the Cup three times from 1987-2009. He played for New Jersey, St. Louis, Hartford, Detroit and the Rangers, and also won an Olympic gold medal with Canada in 2002. He is currently the NHL senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations.

• Scott Neidermayer, a defenseman that won the Cup four times and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoffs MVP) for Anaheim in 2007. He played for New Jersey and Anaheim, producing 740 points from 1993-2010. He won gold for Canada at the 2002 and 2010 Olympics.

• Chris Chelios, a three-time winner of the Norris Trophy (top defenseman). He played nine seasons for his hometown Chicago Blackhawks and also suited up for Montreal, Detroit and Atlanta. He won the Cup three times from 1983-2010. He represented the United States at the Olympics in 1984, 1998, 2002 and 2006.

• Geraldine Heaney, a defender on seven Canadian women's title teams at World Championships. She won Olympic gold with Canada in 2002. She played professionally for 18 seasons with the Toronto Aeros.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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