Hockey has always been a part of the Shero family.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero grew up in a hockey family, going to practices and games as a young child while his father was coaching with various teams at nearly every level of the game.
But while young Ray was enjoying his playful youth around professional athletes, his father was crafting a Hall of Fame career.
In an event that was long overdue, Fred Shero was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday. He coached 10 NHL seasons from 1971-81 and was the league’s first-ever recipient of the Jack Adams Award for most outstanding coach in ’74.
Shero, who passed away in 1990, coached the Philadelphia Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and ’75 and made two other Cup Final appearances with Philadelphia (’76) and the New York Rangers (’79).
“On behalf of my family we are thrilled to have my father inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame,” Ray said. “It’s somewhat of a surprise, but we were thrilled. Congratulations to the other people inducted today, a great class to go into. I’m really looking forward to November and being in Toronto (for the ceremony).”
The real surprise is why it took so long for Fred Shero to be inducted. Ray noted that several people would ask him what year his father was inducted into the Hall of Fame and would respond in shock when informed by Ray that he hadn’t been.
“Better late than never,” said Ray, who was playing football with his two sons on the beach when the Hall of Fame committee phoned him with the news. “I’m very proud of my father and for my family it’s great.”
Fred Shero was considered an innovator of the game. He is considered to be the first coach to use video study, strict workout regimens and morning skates. His strategies are now commonplace practices for every hockey team in the world.
But while his impact on the game was great, his impact on his children was even greater.
“My memories with my dad are him letting me go to practice with him, whether I was 4 or 5 years old in St. Paul, Minnesota or in Buffalo when I was in third grade,” Ray said. “I just wanted to go to the rink. Fortunately, he would take me with him if I was ready to go. He let me be around.
“Because of him and growing up around the game, whether at practice or games or the occasional road trip with the team, I loved being around it.”
Ever since arriving as general manager in Pittsburgh in 2006, Ray has tried to instill that same sense of family in the organization. He started by hiring Chuck Fletcher, who also grew up in a hockey family, as his assistant general manager, and allowed players, coaches and staff to have their kids around as much as possible.
“I’m sure running around the Flyers locker room as a kid I was a pain in the neck,” Ray joked. “They never treated me like that. I remember the players and I still see them to this day. It’s a lot of fun. I think that’s part of being part of the National Hockey League.”