Ray Shero: Father would be 'honored and thrilled'

Fred Shero in 1974 with his wife, Mariette, and their sons, Jean-Paul and Ray (with stick). Ray is now the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Fred Shero in 1974 with his wife, Mariette, and their sons, Jean-Paul and Ray (with stick). Ray is now the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Philadelphia Flyers)
Posted: November 11, 2013

Ray Shero knows the pain felt by his father, Flyers coach Fred Shero, when Buffalo's Gerry Meehan scored on a long shot with four seconds left in the last regular-season game of the 1971-72 season, costing the team a Stanley Cup playoff berth in the elder Shero's first season in Philadelphia.

The younger Shero, then a fourth grader, felt the same agony. So did his mother, Mariette, as they watched the game on TV in their rented Bala Cynwyd home.

"When the goal went in, she kind of screamed, and her coffee cup went up, and coffee went all over the wall," Shero said the other day. "I cried. And I still remember going to school the next day, and it was one of the most devastating days of my life. The kids were saying the Flyers and your old man suck."

The Flyers regrouped from that epic defeat. So did the Shero family.

The next year, the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup semifinals. Two years later, they won the first of back-to-back Cups.

On Monday, Fred Shero, who died at 65 in 1990, will be inducted into hockey's Hall of Fame in Toronto. The little fourth grader who wept when Meehan's shot got past Doug Favell may shed a tear or two as he accepts the honor on behalf of his father.

They will be happy tears.

"Obviously, he'd be very honored and thrilled," said Shero, now the highly respected Pittsburgh Penguins general manager. "When he got inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame, he thought that was great . . . and now this."

Shero said his father would be "more happy for the players" he coached than for himself. That includes all the players, from the minors through his years as the coach of the Flyers and New York Rangers, he said.

In his seven seasons with the Flyers, Shero compiled a 308-151-95 record, including two Stanley Cups and three straight trips to the Finals.

In addition to Shero, general manager Keith "The Thief" Allen and founder Ed Snider are in the Hall, along with three players from the coach's era: Bernie Parent, Bob Clarke, and Bill Barber.

"It validates the great team they had," said Shero, adding that his father was "first to realize that players win games. And he had great captains," including Clarke.

The younger Shero used to be at the rink for practices and games. "I was so fortunate to grow up around that, and be at an age to remember it. It wasn't like I was 1 or 2 when it happened," he said of the Flyers' heyday.

The Sheros lived in Bala Cynwyd during Fred's first coaching season, then spent the next six years residing in Cherry Hill. Ray later attended Camden Catholic High for two years before going to a New Hampshire prep school when his father was hired by the Rangers.

Ray Shero and his wife, Karen, and their two sons, Chris, 18, and Kyle, 15, will attend Monday's ceremony, along with several family members, including Ray's brother, Jean-Paul. Fifteen former Flyers who played for Shero will also be there, along with several team executives and former executives.

Shero said his mother, who died at 86 in 2010, and father were "totally different" personalities.

"My mom was very outgoing - a French Canadian who was quick to make friends," he said. Fred was reserved, "but if you engaged him in conversation, he'd talk for hours," said Ray Shero, who added that his father "was great in that he never pushed" his sons toward hockey or sports.

"But I can't tell you how many people have stopped me and said they'd met my dad and had a good, long talk, or that he invited them for a beer together."

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