One of the many ways that the legendary Fred Shero was a hockey coach ahead of his time was his approach to practice. Shero encouraged players to constantly work on every aspect of their games. He wanted to players to take the self-initiative to recognize their own weaknesses and work to improve.
"A lot of players only work on the things they're good at," Shero explained. "If a guy is good stickhandler, he likes to show off his stickhandling. If he has a great shot, he likes to shoot the puck. Thing is, there aren't many players who want to work on improving their weaknesses. I may not say anything, but believe me, I notice. I want players who challenge themselves to get better in every area. Maybe they can earn a bigger role down the line, maybe they can't. But if they don't want work on changing my mind, they're only cheating themselves."
For instance, Shero encouraged players mostly known for fighting or for throwing their weight around, such as Dave "the Hammer" Schultz, the Hound and Don "Big Bird" Saleski, to simultaneously work on their skating, their positional awareness and their puck skills.
Over time, Saleski not only became one of Philadelphia's better penalty killers, he also scored 21 or more goals in three straight seasons while cutting his penalty minutes significantly.
Forty years after the Broad Street Bullies' heyday, there is still no substitute for hockey players to work diligently and constantly at improving every aspect of their games.
In fact, the greatly increased demands in terms of physical conditioning as well as the speed, size and skill level of today's NHL players make such training even more imperative. This is true for veterans and young players alike, but especially for youngsters trying to work their way up to becoming NHL regulars.