Before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final, legendary Flyers coach Fred Shero – father of Penguins general manager Ray – wrote on the team’s chalkboard, “Win today, and we walk together forever.”
They did win that day, the first of back-to-back championships under Shero. And now, forever is how long the Hall-of-Fame bench boss will be immortalized where the Spectrum, the arena Shero spent seven seasons in as coach of the Flyers, once stood.
On Saturday before Philadelphia hosted Pittsburgh for the first game of a home-and-home series, the Flyers unveiled an eight-foot tall bronze statue of Fred Shero at the Xfinity Live! gate outside of Wells Fargo Center.
It was an emotional ceremony, as eight of Fred’s former players were in attendance and spoke beautifully of the late coach, who passed away in 1990.
Hall-of-Fame goalie Bernie Parent was one of those players, who spoke directly to Ray, in attendance with his son Chris, at one point during his speech.
“Rejean, your dad was the best,” Parent said. “In my world, he was the best head coach of all sports in Philadelphia. Good friend. Great individual. We learned from him how to win one game at a time. We believed in him. He guided us to two Stanley Cups. And today I’m very, very grateful to be here and to share this beautiful statue of Fred Shero.”
Those words and all of the others spoken by the players Fred loved meant a lot to Ray, as did the fact that one of his two sons – neither of whom had a chance to know their grandfather as Fred passed away before they were born – was able to be there to be a part of his grandfather’s incredible legacy with the Flyers.
“I know my father and my mother would be so proud that to know this statue by (sculptor Chad) Fisher, steps away from where the Spectrum once stood, will make him a Flyer forever,” Ray said. “I’m very happy that one of my two boys, Chris, is here today. He’s 18 years old. My other son Kyle is playing hockey right now today and my wife’s with him, but they’re going to know their grampy is here and part of the Flyer family forever.”
It’s been a very special year for the Shero family, as Fred was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this past November – something they had to wait over two decades for.
“I go back to 1990 when he was inducted in the Flyers Hall of Fame, which my dad was alive for and I was here for,” Ray said. “That night, it was funny that he just said ‘you know, maybe one day, (I could be inducted into) the big Hall.’ Which unfortunately he had passed away (when he did), but that happened in November and of course now with this, it’s been a real special year for my father and my family and his name.”
And Ray is incredibly grateful to the entire Flyers organization, primarily chairman Ed Snider – who has owned the team since they entered the league as an expansion franchise in 1967 – for working tirelessly that entire time to ensure his father got the recognition he deserved.
“Through the efforts of the Flyers, there’s been a lot of discussion over the years whether he should be in the Hall of Fame or not,” Shero said. “Mr. Snider and Bob Clarke and the rest of the organization really pushed in his behalf and certainly other people. I’ll never forget that. It’s been a great year.”
When he looked up at the statue for the first time after the unveiling, Shero – who was given a miniature 40-pound version of the bronzed likeness to take home – was amazed by the size of it.
“That was a lot bigger than I expected, honestly,” Shero laughed. “They’re not going to be able to miss it, that’s for sure. But I think Mr. Fisher did a fantastic job with it. That’s part of the legacy I talk about for my kids. When they come back, they’ll always be able to see that. They’ll know their grandfather is always going to be a part of the Flyer family, which is important to them, I believe, and I believe it would have been incredibly important to my mom and dad.”
PHOTOS OF RAY SHERO WITH HIS DAD FRED
A young Ray Shero (bottom left) with dad Fred and the rest of his family after one of Fred's two Stanley Cup championships
Another family photo of the Sheros