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Former Flyers coach Shero honored with statue

Saturday, 03.15.2014 / 1:16 PM
Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- The leader of the Broad Street Bullies has been immortalized in the spot where he did his best work.

On Saturday, the Flyers unveiled an 8-foot, 1,300-pound bronze statue of coach Fred Shero on the former site of the Spectrum, where he coached for seven seasons and won the Stanley Cup twice. That resume earned him enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame in November and a permanent spot in Philadelphia sports history. Shero passed away in 1990.

"He coached here, the Spectrum was here, he's now in front of the area where we all had so many great memories," Flyers chairman Ed Snider said at a ceremonial unveiling for the statue. "He'll be remembered here forever. I think it's fantastic. He was the greatest coach we ever had, one of the greatest guys you'll ever want to meet."

The statue stands in front of the Broad Street Bullies Pub at the Xfinity Live complex, which stands on the former site of the Spectrum.

Joining Snider for the unveiling were eight members of Shero's Stanley Cup teams from 1974 and 1975, among them Hall-of-Fame members Bill Barber and Bernie Parent. Also part of the ceremony was Fred's son, Ray, who serves as the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I know my father and my mother would be so proud to know this statue by Mr. [sculptor Chad] Fisher, steps away from where the Spectrum once stood, will make him a Flyer forever," Ray Shero said. "What really made it special and what makes it special today is to have the original owner of the Flyers, who has the passion to win, the passion to take care of his players and their families. To be the only owner and to be here with a statue makes it a really special day for the Shero family.

"And to all the players here today who played for him in those seven years, you're the ones who helped make his legacy what it was in Philadelphia. He loved you guys, the special bond you all had together."

Fred Shero was known for his famous saying, "Win together today and walk together forever." But he also would write letters to his players. Former Flyer Dave Schultz read one dated Aug. 5, 1976.

"With our team's incredible spirit and determination and its marvelous record, the coaching staff had to be pleased. But the season isn't only wins and losses,'" Schultz read. "It's a learning and maturing experience that becomes more meaningful throughout the years ahead. With individual hard work and unselfish team effort, we have all learned, we have all had memorable experiences. ... I hope that every thought and feeling we shared, no matter how seemingly unimportant, you know will be remembered by the team and supporters forever."

After reading the letter, Schultz pronounced, "I say now the Flyers organization, teammates and all you great Flyers fans will remember Fred Shero forever."

For the younger Shero, whose Penguins are scheduled to face the Flyers Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center, the letter captured the special time his father shared with his players.

"My dad and this team. That's what it is," Ray Shero said. "These players, as [Schultz] said, he loved them. My dad loved those guys. Schultz was special back then. It's different than it is today ... all the things they talked about, that letter that Dave Schultz read, win together today, walk together forever. All those things came to fruition the way this team is, the way this city has embraced them and what they meant, not only to the city but to each other. For my family to be a small part of that is really nice."

Fisher, who created the piece, spent six months sculpting the statue, which was built at his studio in Moorestown, N.J. A Flyers fan going back to the 1980s, FIsher said his father used to go to Rexy's Bar in New Jersey, which was known as the 1970s Flyers' favorite post-game hangout.

Fisher was originally inspired to do something to honor Shero after his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"It was a great honor to do something like this for Mr. Shero," Fisher said. "It's incredible. It's absolutely incredible. It'll be here for quite some time. Being who he was and what he brought not only to the Flyers but to the NHL, it was quite an honor to do something of this magnitude."

In addition to the full-size statue, Fisher also created a pair of 40-pound replicas, which were presented to Snider and Ray Shero. Ray said that the replica will occupy a prominent spot in his home. But it's the eight-foot statue, which will stand forever on the spot where his father enjoyed so much success, that impresses him most.

"That's part of the legacy I talk about with my kids," said Ray Shero, whose son, Chris, was also in attendance. "When they come, back they'll always be able to see that and know their grandfather is always going to be part of the Flyers family. That's important to them and I think it would have been incredibly important to my mom and dad."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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