Ranking Top Philadelphia Flyers Moments in Fred Shero's Hall of Fame Career
Former Philadelphia Flyers coach Fred Shero was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday, an honor that was richly deserved and long overdue.
"Freddie the Fog" coached the Flyers from 1972-73 until 1977-78, leading them to a pair of Stanley Cup championships and reaching the final round on one other occasion.
The Flyers failed to reach the playoffs in Shero's first season in Philadelphia but advanced to the semifinals or further in each of the other six seasons he was behind the bench.
While many hockey fans remember those Flyers teams for their intimidating and fight-filled tactics, Shero was also an innovator. Shero was the first NHL coach to institute the morning skate for his players. He also studied the tactics of the Soviets and incorporated some of them into the NHL game at a time when many people around the league felt there was nothing for North American teams to learn from Europe. He was also the first NHL head coach to hire a full-time assistant coach.
By winning two Stanley Cups, Shero left his mark on Philadelphia. By adding innovations, he left a legacy on the game. His son, Ray Shero, is now general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins and helped build a championship team there.
Here is a look at the top moments that Shero had as coach of the Flyers. Feel free to comment on any of these or add another one that you feel belongs on this list. As always, please indicate why you feel your choice belongs here.
5. 1976: Flyers Reach 3rd Straight Stanley Cup Final
The Flyers were shooting for a third straight Stanley Cup in 1975-76, and under Shero's leadership, they came close despite losing Hall of Fame goalie Bernie Parent for all but 11 games that season.
The Flyers finished with a 51-13-16 record, the best regular-season mark they had under Shero and the best record in franchise history to date.
The team's top line of Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and Reggie Leach set a new NHL record by scoring 141 goals over the season led by Leach's 61 and Barber's 50.
Without Parent, the Flyers fell to the Montreal Canadiens in the finals. Although the series was a sweep, three of the four games were decided by just one goal.
Shero's team showed no complacency and lost to a team that would go on to win four straight championships before it was finished.
Leach's record-breaking playoff performance earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy despite playing for a team that did not win a title. Clarke also won the Hart Trophy as the league MVP.
Reaching a third straight Stanley Cup Final was a great moment for Shero and the Flyers.
4. 1974: Flyers Beat the Rangers to Reach the Stanley Cup Final
On May 5, 1974, Shero's Flyers became the first NHL expansion team to defeat an Original Six club in a playoff series when they beat the New York Rangers in the semifinals.
From the time the league doubled in size in 1967, the new expansion clubs were considered second-class citizens by fans and the media alike. In the first three years after expansion, a new team met an established club in the Stanley Cup Final, and in each year, the expansion team failed to win a single game. The series were so one-sided that in 1971, the league revised the playoff schedule so that two Original Six teams could meet in the Stanley Cup Final. That's exactly what happened the next three seasons.
Then along came Shero and the "Broad Street Bullies," who took on a highly favored Rangers club stocked with future Hall of Famers like Rod Gilbert, Brad Park, Ed Giacomin and Jean Ratelle.
The home team won each of the first six games of the series. Game 7 was a hard-fought 4-3 Flyers win at the Spectrum. The Rangers outshot the Flyers, 46-34, but goalie Bernie Parent was spectacular and the Flyers proved that expansion teams needed to be taken seriously and afforded respect.
It was a magic moment for Shero and the Flyers as they reached their first Stanley Cup Final.
3. 1976: Flyers Beat the Russians
On January 11, 1976, the Philadelphia Flyers took on the Soviet Red Army team as part of Super Series '76.
The Red Army was widely considered the best team in the world having dominated international play for years. The Soviets had already crushed the Rangers, tied the mighty Canadiens and handily beaten the Bruins.
Their final stop was at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, and the Flyers were the NHL's last chance to defeat the Red Army as part of this series. This was in the middle of the Cold War, so international pride was on the line.
The Flyers played their usual physical game, so physical that the Soviets left the ice and refused to return after defenseman Ed Van Impe delivered a hard body check to Valeri Kharlamov of the Red Army. The Soviets only returned after they were told they would not be paid if they didn't finish the game. The Flyers and the fans in Philadelphia waited 17 minutes for the Soviets to return to the ice.
In the end, the Flyers got goals from Reggie Leach, Rick MacLeish, Joe Watson and Larry Goodenough. They outshot the Russians, 49-13, and won the game, 4-1.
It was a face-saving victory for the NHL, who went 1-2-1 against the Red Army and 1-3-0 against the Soviet Wings.
After the game, Shero said, via FlyersHistory.com, "Yes we are world champions. If they had won, they would have been world champions. We beat the hell out of a machine."
Shero's son Ray told Adam Kimelman of NHL.com that this win was more meaningful to his father than the two Stanley Cup victories.
2. 1975: Flyers Beat the Sabres to Win 2nd Stanley Cup
When the Flyers won their first championship in 1974, many critics called it a fluke. So, Shero and his team went out and proved them all wrong by winning a second straight Stanley Cup in 1975.
This time, the Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres in six games to win the title at the Aud in Buffalo. It was the first time two expansion teams had met in the Stanley Cup Final. The Sabres featured veteran goalies Gerry Desjardins and Roger Crozier as well as the "French Connection Line" of Gilbert Perreault, Richard Martin and Rene Robert.
The final game was a 2-0 shutout for Bernie Parent. Third-line winger Bob Kelly, "The Hound Dog," scored the Cup-clinching goal.
Bernie Parent won his second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, and the Flyers definitively proved their doubters wrong.
1. 1974: Flyers Become 1st Expansion Team to Win the Stanley Cup
On May 19, 1974, the Philadelphia Flyers made history when they became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup.
MacLeish was credited with the only goal of the game when he deflected home a shot by Andre "Moose" Dupont to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead in Game 6 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Parent made 30 saves to earn the shutout, and the Flyers were champions.
The Bruins, led by Bobby Orr, were heavy favorites, but Shero had a plan to wear down Orr over the course of the series by dumping the puck to Orr's side of the ice and then forechecking him relentlessly. Terry Crisp, who played on that first championship club and later became a successful NHL coach, told NHL.com's Adam Kimelman:
When he first said it, we said do you know who Bobby Orr is? We said it was like giving a kid a stick of dynamite and telling him to go play in the street. He said if...you dumped it into Bobby Orr's corner he has to go back and get it and go the length of the ice. Bobby Orr was famous for leading the charge and then being the first back to defend it -- he was that good a skater. After six games that's a lot of mileage. It wore Bobby down, even as good as he was.
The Flyers won the series in six games.
On the blackboard in the locker room before the game, Shero often wrote messages to his players to get them thinking or to lighten the mood. Before this game, he wrote, "Win together today and we will walk together forever."
They did win, and to this day, they all share a bond with each other and the city of Philadelphia that will never be broken.