Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hall of Fame committee in fog over Shero

The 18-member Hall of Fame selection committee has some explaining to do.

Hall of Fame committee in fog over Shero

Fred Shero directed the Flyers to consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1970s. (Daily News file photo)
Fred Shero directed the Flyers to consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1970s. (Daily News file photo)

The 18-member Hall of Fame selection committee has some explaining to do.

The committee shamed itself, again, by bypassing former Flyers coach Fred Shero for the Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Nicknamed "The Fog," the quirky Shero was an innovator, and he directed the Flyers to consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1970s. In a six-year span, he led his teams to four appearances in the Finals, including 1979 with the New York Rangers.

My gut reaction is that the committee frowns upon Shero because they think the Broad Street Bullies _ the nickname given to Shero’s brawling Flyers teams of the 1970s _ soiled the NHL’s image.

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But if that was the case, why did the Broad Street Bullies’ captain (Bobby Clarke), GM (Keith Allen) and owner (Ed Snider) earn spots in the Hall several years ago?

In 1974 and 1975, Shero directed the upstart Flyers to Stanley Cup titles. The Flyers won the 1974 championship in just their seventh year of existence, becoming the first expansion team to capture the Cup.

By comparison, Los Angeles, which also entered the league in 1967, won its first Cup THIS YEAR.

Since the Flyers won consecutive Cups, 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 of Fame.

Shero, who died in 1990, 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.

Quite simply, Shero was ahead of his time.

Way ahead.

During his 10-year NHL coaching career, Shero posted a 390-225-119 record, a points percentage of .612. Starting in 1973-74, his Flyers teams had a points percentage of at least .700 for four straight seasons, going 50-16-12; 51-18-11; 51-13-16; and 48-16-16.

A Winnipeg native and former bantam boxing champion in the Navy, Shero scribbled a now-famous message on the blackboard before the Flyers faced Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the 1974 Cup Final: Win today and we walk together forever.

Final: Flyers 1, Boston 0, and an estimated two million people later attended the victory parade.

Ever since that season, Philadelphia has been one of the NHL’s prized hockey cities. Shero was highly instrumental in setting the foundation.

In a statement, the NHL said the Hall of Fame’s mandate is to
“recognize and honor the achievements of players, builders and officials
who bring special distinction to the game of hockey.”

Shero did that. Better than most coaches in NHL history.

Somehow, the 18 committee members haven’t noticed.

Staff Writer
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