Shero's son says 'thank you' on Hall of Fame night

Fred Shero (right) with Bobby Clarke (AP file photo)
Fred Shero (right) with Bobby Clarke (AP file photo)
Posted: November 13, 2013

TORONTO - Ray Shero, accepting the Hall of Fame honor Monday night on behalf of his father, the late Fred Shero, recited the famous words the Flyers coach scribbled on the blackboard during the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins: "Win today and we walk together forever."

"Thirty-nine years later, it's safe to say that not only has that team not broken a bond to this day, but the city of Philadelphia still has a love affair with a bunch of feisty Canadian kids," said Shero, now the highly respected Pittsburgh Penguins general manager. "These kids helped define not only a franchise, but an entire city. They truly are walking together forever."

Shero delivered a classy, emotional 10-minute speech at the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Toronto.

He recalled the touching eulogy that Bobby Clarke, the captain of Shero's championship teams, delivered when his father died in 1990. He talked about his father's love for Shakespeare and Dickens; his fascination with Russian hockey and how he incorporated it into his system. He talked about how when "everybody was threatening back in the 1970s to go play in the WHA for more money . . . my father threatened to go to law school instead."

Monday was "Remembrance Day" in Canada to honor those who served in the military. Fittingly, it was the same day the Hall of Fame inducted five members, including Shero, the enigmatic man who was so beloved that 15 of his former players made the trip to Ontario to be at the ceremonies.

Shero said it was "heartwarming" to see the support the Flyers executives and former players had shown his father.

The players remembered their coach fondly.

"He played a very big part in all our lives, especially for us younger guys at the time," said Bill Barber, a Hall of Fame winger who helped the Flyers win Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975 - Shero's ticket to the Hall. "And I loved his sayings. He had some good stuff. He was awesome to play for, and if you weren't on top of your game, you felt bad about it."

Orest Kindrachuk said Shero's honor was overdue.

"I wish it would have happened while he was still with us," said Kindrachuk, a center on Shero's greatest teams.

"Of course, we would probably be looking for him," Kindrachuk said, smiling. "He would probably have been late, and we don't know where he would have been. Thank God there's no underground here, like in Atlanta," when Shero disappeared one night after a 1974 playoff game and was mugged outside the Omni.

Added Kindrachuk: "Freddy Shero taught all of us. We've been talking about that all day - not only on the ice, but off the ice."

Scotty Bowman, the legendary former coach who is now an executive with the Chicago Blackhawks, said Shero was "ahead of his time."

"Fred had a very successful system. They didn't have a lot of great offensive defensemen, but they were well-schooled, and they had big wingers and terrific centers," Bowman said. "And, of course, Bernie Parent. And they always had a heavy forecheck system."

Right winger Brendan Shanahan, now the NHL's dean of discipline, and defensemen Chris Chelios and Scott Niedermayer were also inducted, along with Canadian women's national team defenseman Geraldine Heaney.

Chelios had many famous friends show their support by attending the ceremony, including actors John Cusack, Cindy Crawford, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Tony Danza, tennis star John McEnroe, and musician Kid Rock.

Downie back Tuesday

The Flyers are likely to have winger Steve Downie back in the lineup when they face the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday night.

Downie, wearing a full cage, was on a line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read at the Flyers' practice Monday in Voorhees.

Downie suffered a concussion in a fight with Washington's Aaron Volpatti during the Flyers' 7-0 loss Nov. 1. It was Downie's first game after being acquired from Colorado for Max Talbot. He missed the next four.

If Downie can play, Michael Raffl could be demoted. Raffl, who has one assist and no goals in 11 games, missed Monday's practice with an illness.


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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