Bobby Clarke never has been short of opinions, and he has long advocated that the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee was in a haze when it came to his old Philadelphia Flyers coach, the late Fred "The Fog" Shero.
Shero was a trailblazing coach who led Clarke and the Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1973-74 and 1974-75. The Winnipeg native, who passed away in November 1990 at age 65, joins goalie Bernie Parent (1984), Clarke (1987), Bill Barber and general manager Keith Allen (1992) from that Flyers team in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"I've said all along that Keith Allen should have been the first to go into the Hall from that team and Freddie should have been next," Clarke said. "He meant so much to our success."
Shero was an enigmatic and unique. He also was an innovator. He has been credited as the first NHL bench boss to hire an assistant coach in Mike Nykoluk. He was ahead of his coaching peers in terms of the use of video. He was the first to hold organized morning skates on game days.
"When I first broke into the league in 1969 we'd get together in the morning on game days, tape our sticks, maybe go on the ice and test the edges of our skates," Clarke recalled.
"In Fred's first year as head coach we weren't very good. So he came up with the idea of holding a practice on the mornings of games. He also was one of the first to learn from the Russians. He was friends with [Anatoli] Tarasov."
There are two different accounts of how Shero earned the nickname, the Fog. One story goes back to when he was a minor-league defenceman for the St. Paul Saints. A Saints game was cancelled in the 1947-48 season because of fog in the rink. But Shero claimed he could see the puck and after that his teammates started to call him the Fog.
The other more commonly known theory as to why Shero was called the Fog was because he often seemed distant or deep in thought, even when others tried to hold a conversation with him.
"If you could look inside Freddie's brain, you would find a miniature hockey rink," Mariette, Shero's wife of 32 years, once said.
Clarke believes Shero, whose son Ray is the Pittsburgh Penguins GM, was called the Fog because of his deep-thinking ways. He also said that Shero had an unmatched love for the game and his players.
"He was a players' coach," Clarke said. "You never saw him giving a player crap. He may reduce that player's ice time a bit, but he believed in his players. He always preached the way to success was to play as a team. It always was about the team with Freddie."
Clarke and his teammates often showed up in the dressing room before games to find an inspirational message from their coach on the chalk board. One of his most famous was written before the Flyers clinched their first Stanley Cup in Game 6 of 1974 final.
"Win today and walk together forever," the message said.
Even though Shero only played 145 games for the New York Rangers between 1947 and 1950, he was decent enough to be named to the AHL second all-star team in 1954 and he was a winner. He won back-to-back Calder Cups in the AHL in 1953 and 1954 with the Cleveland Barons. He won another championship in the old Quebec Hockey League with the 1957-58 Shawinigan Cataracts as player/assistant coach.
He was swift to achieve success behind the bench. He returned to St. Paul and won successive IHL Turner Cups with the Saints in 1960 and 1961 and then enjoyed a decade that is difficult to match.
Between 1969-70 and 1978-79, he won a Calder Cup in the final season of the Buffalo Bisons in 1970 and followed that up with a CHL title in Omaha. He then was promoted to the Flyers for the 1971-72 season and before you knew it Philadelphia celebrated its only two Stanley Cup titles to date.
Shero steered the Flyers to a third straight appearance in the Stanley Cup final in 1976, made two more conference final appearances and one more trip to the Stanley Cup final with the New York Rangers in 1979, which was fitting because the last game he played in the NHL was for the Rangers in the 1950 Cup final.
"He was one of the best coaches in the game before he made it to the NHL and the Flyers," Clarke said. "But once he got to the NHL it didn't take him long to prove he was one of the best."
It just took him longer than expected to get his due in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Age: 51 Hometown: Chicago
Current job: Executive advisor to Detroit GM Ken Holland
NHL teams: Canadiens, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Thrashers
Achievements: Second-oldest active player in NHL history at 48...Most games played by a defenceman at 1,651...Tied with Gordie Howe for most NHL seasons at 26...Won 1983 NCAA championship with Wisconsin...Named to 1984-85 NHL all-rookie team...Three-time Stanley Cup champion with 1986 Canadiens, 2002 and 2008 Red Wings...Won Norris Trophy in 1989, 1993, 1996...NHL first-team all-star in 1989, 1993, 1995, 2002, second-team in 1991, 1997...Won 1996 World Cup of Hockey and named to tournament all-star team
Age: 45 Hometown: Weston, Ont.
Lives in Ancaster, Ont. with husband John and two children, Shannon and Patrick
Hockey background: Began playing for Toronto Aeros at age 13 and was a mainstay with team for 18 years. She also played defence for Canadian national team for 13 years
Achievements: Won 2002 Olympic gold with Canada...Won 1990, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 world championships with Canada...Named world championship tournament best defenceman in 1992 and 1994...Named world championship all-star in 1992 and 1999...Won 2000 Canadian Women's National Championship with Ontario...Named Most Valuable Defenceman at 1999 Nationals...Played in every Canadian Women's National Championship from 1987 to 2001, the only player to do so...Named Ontario senior most valuable defenceman in 1988, 1992 and 1993
Age: 39 Hometown: Cranbrook, B.C.
Current job: Anaheim Ducks assistant coach
NHL Teams: Devils, Ducks
Achievements: 17 NHL seasons...Four-time Stanley Cup champion with 1995, 2000, 2003 New Jersey and 2007 Anaheim...Won 1991 world junior...Won 1992 Memorial Cup and Stafford Smythe Trophy winner as tournament MVP...Won 2002 and 2010 Olympic gold...Won 2004 world championship with brother Rob...Won 2003-04 Norris Trophy...Won 2007 Conn Smythe Trophy...Triple Gold Club member... Named to 1992-93 NHL all-rookie team...First-team NHL all-star in 2004, 2006 and 2007, second-team all-star in 1998
Age: 44 Hometown: Mimico, Ont.
Current job: NHL vice-president, director of player safety
NHL teams: Devils, Blues, Whalers, Red Wings, Rangers
Achievements: 21 NHL seasons...Triple Gold Club member...Stanley Cup champion with 1997, 1998, 2002 Red Wings...2000 gold with Canadian Olympic team...1991 Canada Cup championship...1994 world championship with Canada...First-team NHL all-star in 1994 and 2000, second-team all-star in 2002...2003 King Clancy Trophy winner...Only player in NHL history with over 600 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes
Died: Nov. 24/90 at age 65 Hometown: Winnipeg
NHL teams coached: Flyers, Rangers
Achievements: Won back-to-back 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cups with the Flyers...Won 1974 Jack Adams Award...His NHL coaching record was 390-225-119 in regular season and 109-62-47 in post-season...Won 1960 and 1961 IHL Turner Cup with St. Paul Saints...Won 1970 Calder Cup with Buffalo Bisons...Won 1971 CHL championship with Omaha Knights...Won 1969-70 Louis Pieri Award as AHL coach of the year...Won 1970-71 Jake Milford Trophy as CHL coach of the year...Won 1957-58 QHL championship with Shawinigan Cataracts as player/assistant coach...Won back-to-back Calder Cups as a player in 1953 and 1954 with the Cleveland Barons
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