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The Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers


by Jay Greenberg / Philadelphia Flyers

The Wit and Wisdom of Fred Shero

Upon his hiring by the Flyers, June 1, 1971:

“Hockey is like pool. It’s not what you make, but what you leave.”

“I’ve hardly ever fined a player. Nowadays, you fine a player and he laughs at you. You sit him on the bench, though and it’s embarrassing. “

“I tell my guys, ‘I don’t want you to do what I say unless I can prove that I’m right.’ But then he’ll do it anyway because I am the boss.”

On his haircut orders for the Flyers’ at his first training camp with them: “All I said was that I didn’t want hair in their eyes. Before (Jimmy) Johnson would take a faceoff, he had to brush the hair away. Plus, if a player has a lot of hair around his face, it’s going to take too much time to put in stitches. In hockey we demand that a man get back in action as soon as possible.”

“Another thing is we’ll be rushing to catch planes and won’t have time to wait for players to dry their hair. They’d catch colds if they rushed outside. And we can’t afford to pay for 19 hair dryers.”

On waking up in an Atlanta hotel room during the 1974 playoffs with a cut, bruised face, a broken thumb, and a six-inch gash on his arm. “All I remember is the word ‘animal’ upset me. If I had a fight in a bar, it wouldn’t be the first time. From now on when I go for a walk, I’m taking (Dave) Schultz with me.”

After the Flyers beat the Bruins for the first time in 27 games, 10 days before the 1974 playoffs, and the drive to the first Cup began: “This is the best team I’ve ever seen in jockey for discipline and desire. “I don’t think I’ll ever see one better.”

Written by Shero on the dressing room blackboard before Game 4 of the 1974 Stanley Cup finals: “Win and we will walk together forever.”

After being cautioned by security-conscious policemen to stop leaning out of his car to shake hands on the Stanley Cup 2 parade route: “I believe this day belongs to the people of the city, just as much as it belongs to us. They supported us all year and what are they asking in return? Just a handshake or a chance to touch one of us. I don’t think they should be denied that.”

To 100,000 people at JFK Stadium, at the end of that parade route:  “This city is beautiful. It doesn’t realize just how beautiful yet, but maybe it’s learning”

After taking Orest Kindrachuk, a fellow back pain-sufferer, to visit Shero’s faith healer in 1976: “I’m cured. Well, not cured but the pain went away. Now, the only pain I have is the players.”

After a Flyers’ 23-game unbeaten streak was ended by the Red Wings in 1976, one game short of a 35 year-old NHL record: “What do records mean? I set all kinds of records coaching 13 years in the minors and I starved to death.”

On why he started Bobby Taylor, who played only eight games as Bernie Parent’s backup in 1973-74, in a national television game in Boston: “It’s his turn.”

On Paul Holmgren, after he flattened Phil Esposito in Holmgren’s NHL debut: “There’s the Stanley Cup.”

When told that many of his players, just dethroned by Montreal as Stanley Cup champions in 1976, said the season was a waste if you don’t win it all: “They can’t mean that. They have to accept it. What else can they do? They’re not God.”

After an abysmal loss to the Islanders in 1977: “I fell sorry for the fans. They had to pay. We got in free.”

After Al Hill scored five points in his first NHL game: “I didn’t know we had the guy. They just told me he was tough. I said, ‘Bring him up.’”

On injuries: If my players are hurt, I tell them to go to the hospital. They recover fast in there because it interferes with their night life.”

Said with pride after the Flyers overcame a slow start in 1976-77 to win a fourth-straight division title, the last of Shero’s time with the Flyers: “The playoffs don’t mean anything. They are just there to make money for the owners and players.”

On the joy of coaching: “I get up early deliberately. Then I can look at the people going to work. I can think how lucky I am. In other words I can go back to sleep. I can call off practice. I can do anything I’ve ever wanted.”

On the agony of coaching: “I want to be miserable. That makes me happy. I think you can’t know joy if you don’t know sorrow. If you are happy all the time, there must be something wrong. Evidently you’re an idiot. You’re doing nothing.”

About Kevin McCarthy, the Flyers’ first-round pick in 1977, after his first NHL game: “He is the best passer in the history of the NHL.”

On Rick MacLeish during a 1978 slump: “I told Terry and Pat (assistant coaches Crisp and Quinn) to get off his back and not talk to him about hockey for two days. I think [MacLeish] needs a pat on the back more than anything but how many times can you tell a guy he is great? He shouldn’t need that much encouragement.”

On the defensive style of Roger Neilson’s Toronto Maple Leafs: “If they win, they don’t deserve it. You might get lucky and win some games like that, but it is never going to win you a championship.”

As he exchanged his skates for street shoes while seated on a folding chair after the skidding Flyers practiced in Chicago in 1978:  “ My patience is wearing thin and so are the soles of my shoes. We have tried everything. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him fish. What else can I do? You want to jump in the river with me?”

On what he would tell slumping veterans benched in favor of minor-league call-ups during that 1978 slump: “Tough bleepsky. That’s what they say in Russia.”

On his frustration with poor reception when he tried to watch a hockey game in a TV hotel room (pre-cable days): “A $300-a-night room. And a 25-cent TV.”

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