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Fred Shero: Genius?

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11-08-2013, 04:05 PM
  #1
Big Phil
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Fred Shero: Genius?

Alright, Fred "The Fog" Shero is finally getting his due and getting inducted into the HHOF on Monday. Yeah, a little late, but let's face it, the Flyers were everyone's enemy. The voting committee is human, there is no doubt the resentment of the Broad Street Bullies had a factor in Shero waiting so long, and why he never got in there before his death (1990). But he's in now, and better late than never. I've always been a proponent of him getting in.

We all know the nickname "The Fog" that he had. A lot of it stemmed from the fact that Shero would at times appear to be incoherent behind the bench. Phil Esposito said he would talk to himself a lot back there. But was it a ploy or was he seriously just drunk at times do you think?

Personally I think he had a great hockey mind, and was brilliant. He goes down as one of the best innovators in the game. Shero combined sheer toughness with sheer talent and blended that together to make the Flyers what they were. He studied the Soviet style of play and found a way to outplay the Red Army in a way I am not sure any team has before. The Flyers won that classic game in 1976 4-1 and it is remembered for the Soviets leaving the ice because of the violent play of the Flyers ("They're going home!") but in that game the Flyers outshot them 49-13. It was incredible.

I think Shero was a genius and yeah he could have enjoyed "grandpa's cough syrup" a little bit but I think he intentionally acted like "the fog" to lower the expectations of everyone despite knowing exactly what he was doing.

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11-08-2013, 04:43 PM
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Innovator, yes. Worthy of the HHOF, yes. But how he could stand behind that bench and encourage, dismiss and tolerate the violence game by game for years is astonishing. Maybe that's why he left the Flyers. He had had enough. The thing that he or the Flyers don't get enough credit for is that they were skilled enough anyway, without the excessive violence. Now don't get me wrong, their toughness was part of their skill. The Flyers peaked at a perfect time, in between Boston's losses to the WHA and Montreal rebuilding. Would they have won had Boston not lost so many players? Probably once. Parent, Clarke and the rest were still very good. Genius? I'd prefer to call him one of the great hockey minds of his generation. Perhaps more than anything, he was willing to try anything to win. He didn't dig his heels in and say 'this is the way its always been done'. As Def Leppard once wrote, "Its better to burn out, than fade away." We've seen many coaches fade away over the years because of their stubbornness to change.

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11-08-2013, 04:48 PM
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I remember Shero saying that he never once told his team to "goon it up". But rather he wanted them to stick together out on the ice. That explained a lot of the brawls. You know, come to think of it, I really don't know why Shero left Philly after 1978. He wasn't fired from what I remember. It wasn't as if Philly wasn't still an elite team.

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11-08-2013, 07:16 PM
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I'd like to think, at one point or another, we've all had the opportunity to work with someone like this. Or at the very least heard stories from people who have. And if there's one commonality, it's the inability of extremely intelligent individuals to think on any wavelength other than their own. They're just on a different level. And after having read so many different stories about Freddy and how he mastered not only the game but the human personality as well, I'm having a hard time calling him anything but (a genius).

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11-08-2013, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
I remember Shero saying that he never once told his team to "goon it up". But rather he wanted them to stick together out on the ice. That explained a lot of the brawls. You know, come to think of it, I really don't know why Shero left Philly after 1978. He wasn't fired from what I remember. It wasn't as if Philly wasn't still an elite team.
Ya, strange what happened there, much like everything else when it came to Freddie the Fog. He'd played for the Rangers for several years followed by stints in Cleveland where he won Calders; the WHL etc finally retiring around 58, embarking on his Coaching career, including somewhat down a few rungs in the Rangers organization. At one time considered a possible replacement for Emile Francis but what with perceived alcohol problems & a decided lack of (or just plain strange) communication skills passed over....

.... fast forward to 77/78 with the Flyers making Semi-Final exits to the Bruins 2yrs in a row, and even with a year left on his Contract, he submits a Letter of Resignation stating "the Flyers need a Coaching change whether they know it or not" (which the Flyers refused to accept btw) and then signs a 5yr deal with New York at $250,000K per. Huge $$$ for a Coach back then. In order to avoid Tampering Charges, the Rangers gave Philly cash & their first round pick in the 78 Draft which they used to select Ken The Rat Linesman.

Purely/wildly speculating here, but Id hazard to guess some real "tampering" did go on and that Shero's return to New York was for him not only a Homecoming of sorts but so too a kind of sweet vengeance having been denied the Head Coaching job in Manhattan so many years earlier for what he wouldve considered spurious reasons, then going on to more than prove their mistake by winning a couple of Cups while seriously bloodying up his opponents on the way to the top. The money as well, quarter million bucks, that wouldve been like more than double what most Coaches got paid in the 70's. And he delivered. Rangers going deep.

Oh, also that nickname, "The Fog". Picked it up when playing in a game in the minors in St.Paul. Ice fogged over, Freddie the only one claiming he could see the puck. Stuck with him, and appropriate, as he spoke in riddles, cryptic, and thats if he said anything at all.

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11-08-2013, 10:43 PM
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Obviously there is a good amount of Shero stuff in there. I believe they delve into the evolution of the Flyers into the Bullies and why/how it happened, and I believe it comments on Shero's role.

I don't remember if his departure is discussed.

Edit: Shero at 23:00

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11-09-2013, 02:00 PM
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Genius seems a little over the top. He was a very good coach who was made to look a lot better by superior goaltending and having a great captain, not uncommon traits of championship teams. Art Skov certainly helped as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
I remember Shero saying that he never once told his team to "goon it up". But rather he wanted them to stick together out on the ice. That explained a lot of the brawls.
I always have been under the perception that the goonery was more a legacy of Ed Snider and Keith Allen. The HBO documentary with Snider talking about the lessons from those early playoff series with St. Louis seems to back that up. Shero's teams when he was winning championships in the minors weren't known for their goonery. When he went to NY the Rangers didn't all of a sudden turn into the Broadway Bullies, whereas the Flyers under McCammon and certainly Quinn continued to goon it up and lead the league in penalties.

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11-09-2013, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
As Def Leppard once wrote, "Its better to burn out, than fade away."
That was Neil Young ("My, My, Hey, Hey")

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11-09-2013, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobilus View Post
That was Neil Young ("My, My, Hey, Hey")
Def Leppards' Rock of Ages, same dealeo. Musicians are all thieves mobilus. LBD's generation, same refrain. Look it up.

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11-10-2013, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by double5son10 View Post
I always have been under the perception that the goonery was more a legacy of Ed Snider and Keith Allen. The HBO documentary with Snider talking about the lessons from those early playoff series with St. Louis seems to back that up. Shero's teams when he was winning championships in the minors weren't known for their goonery. When he went to NY the Rangers didn't all of a sudden turn into the Broadway Bullies, whereas the Flyers under McCammon and certainly Quinn continued to goon it up and lead the league in penalties.
True enough. The Flyers have always been a team that have dropped the mitts. Honestly I can't remember a single Flyers team that wasn't tough or wasn't accused of gooning it up. Shero just sort of brought forth the idea that the team should stick together, on the ice and off of it. With that, can certainly come brawling. Shero certainly didn't discourage the idea of the Flyers brawling though.

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11-10-2013, 01:09 PM
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Yes he's a genius. It's there really any doubt? Check out my ATD 2011 bio of him. The man won me a championship

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11-11-2013, 12:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
He studied the Soviet style of play and found a way to outplay the Red Army in a way I am not sure any team has before. The Flyers won that classic game in 1976 4-1 and it is remembered for the Soviets leaving the ice because of the violent play of the Flyers ("They're going home!") but in that game the Flyers outshot them 49-13. It was incredible.
Lord knows why that is considered a 'classic game'... I mean, if game 3 of the Challenge Cup is a classic game, or the 1981 Canada Cup final, yeah, it's that then; just a case of one team totally dominating the other. At least usually blowouts aren't considered classics, but I guess when a Soviet team is at the receiving end, they are? Still, IMO it is a game that is far more famous than it deserves to be. Why not emphasize those 2 Stanley Cups instead???

Montreal outplayed CSKA too, and without that intimidating/violence factor. Having said that, the Flyers definitely played much better than CSKA in every way. However, by the time of the Philly game, CSKA had lost their #1 and #2 centers, Vladimir Petrov and Viktor Zhluktov, respectively, and one of their top dmen, Gennady Tsygankov. The team was totally dependent on their top line & Tretiak...

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11-11-2013, 01:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Alright, Fred "The Fog" Shero is finally getting his due and getting inducted into the HHOF on Monday. Yeah, a little late, but let's face it, the Flyers were everyone's enemy. The voting committee is human, there is no doubt the resentment of the Broad Street Bullies had a factor in Shero waiting so long, and why he never got in there before his death (1990). But he's in now, and better late than never. I've always been a proponent of him getting in.

We all know the nickname "The Fog" that he had. A lot of it stemmed from the fact that Shero would at times appear to be incoherent behind the bench. Phil Esposito said he would talk to himself a lot back there. But was it a ploy or was he seriously just drunk at times do you think?

Personally I think he had a great hockey mind, and was brilliant. He goes down as one of the best innovators in the game. Shero combined sheer toughness with sheer talent and blended that together to make the Flyers what they were. He studied the Soviet style of play and found a way to outplay the Red Army in a way I am not sure any team has before. The Flyers won that classic game in 1976 4-1 and it is remembered for the Soviets leaving the ice because of the violent play of the Flyers ("They're going home!") but in that game the Flyers outshot them 49-13. It was incredible.

I think Shero was a genius and yeah he could have enjoyed "grandpa's cough syrup" a little bit but I think he intentionally acted like "the fog" to lower the expectations of everyone despite knowing exactly what he was doing.
The goon era got in hockey because that was NHL at its weakest point. Especially in Philly and Boston. The Don Cherry gang. Expansion plus WHA raided much of the game's top talent. Before massive influx of Euro players. Scotty Bowman went the other direction and blew them away.

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11-11-2013, 10:11 AM
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The goon era got in hockey because that was NHL at its weakest point. Especially in Philly and Boston. The Don Cherry gang. Expansion plus WHA raided much of the game's top talent. Before massive influx of Euro players. Scotty Bowman went the other direction and blew them away.
I actually beg to differ there with your interpretation Mats. The Baby Boom had in fact kept pace with Expansion in 67/68 through 70 & then again in 72. The additional requirements for talent with the WHA coming on-line did result in a watering down as they had no such caution nor care in essentially robbing the cradle in drafting 18yr olds who werent ready from prime-time. In some cases not so much as players but as people, individuals; they lacked the maturity & seasoning that playing Junior followed by further development in the AHL or IHL provided. The business model had changed completely from the old sponsorship days yet at the management & coaching levels dinosaurs from that earlier era employed and at all levels of elite hockey.

Winning through intimidation was nothing new, an old trick in the book and one often used when facing a superior talent. Its a quick fix, low down & dirty but it works and when "winning is all", every team in the NHL followed in reaction to the Flyers & to a lesser extent the Bruins as much as possible. The WHA meanwhile marketed itself, the league populated by generally Steve Durbano types, guys who could play a bit sure but on the whole miscreants of the first order. So overall, it wasnt so much that the talent pool was shallow but had more to do with the new business realities at the amateur, Junior & Pro levels, how Managers & Coaches dealt with it. Like today whereby players are criticized for being "robotic" and "lacking a full toolbox", the hockey crafts, a very similar analogy can be drawn to those late 60's & 70's era. Its not that the talent wasnt there, its that it was put on the ice too early in a lot of cases, fighting then like system today, you complied or didnt play & so on. Its as unfair to state "70's players lacked the talent" as it is to today to state "modern players lack the same talent as 80's or 90's players". They dont. Their merely a result of Coaching strategies & weaknesses in that department, pushed & promoted up along the line today as they were then and have been ever since far too early in so many cases.


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11-11-2013, 11:31 AM
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Lord knows why that is considered a 'classic game'... I mean, if game 3 of the Challenge Cup is a classic game, or the 1981 Canada Cup final, yeah, it's that then; just a case of one team totally dominating the other. At least usually blowouts aren't considered classics, but I guess when a Soviet team is at the receiving end, they are? Still, IMO it is a game that is far more famous than it deserves to be. Why not emphasize those 2 Stanley Cups instead???

Montreal outplayed CSKA too, and without that intimidating/violence factor. Having said that, the Flyers definitely played much better than CSKA in every way. However, by the time of the Philly game, CSKA had lost their #1 and #2 centers, Vladimir Petrov and Viktor Zhluktov, respectively, and one of their top dmen, Gennady Tsygankov. The team was totally dependent on their top line & Tretiak...
It has a lot to do with the fact that this was the two-time Cup champions, at the height of their "Broad Street Bullies" nickname. The Rangers and Bruins lost to the Red Army, the Canadiens tied them in that other classic game and the Flyers blitzed against them. It is made more of a classic for the whole "They're going home" call made by Bob Cole. A team walking right off the ice to protest the style of play is going to be considered a classic game regardless.

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11-11-2013, 12:16 PM
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Fred was coaching the St. Paul Saints in 1962-63 when I was reffing in the IHL. Back then his team didn't have anyone that could intimidate you. The most penalty minutes anyone had on that team was 85 minutes. They wound up in last place.

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11-11-2013, 01:40 PM
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Fred was coaching the St. Paul Saints in 1962-63 when I was reffing in the IHL. Back then his team didn't have anyone that could intimidate you. The most penalty minutes anyone had on that team was 85 minutes. They wound up in last place.
Interesting, as hadnt he just finished Coaching the Saints to the Turner Cup Championships in 1960 & 1961? Sounds like maybe his club after enjoying those successes was decimated by a loss of talent going elsewhere by 61/62 & 62/63 when you arrived on the scene huh? I note as well he then moved on to Coach the St.Pauls Rangers (same owners maybe just switching leagues?) of the CPHL, making it to the Finals but not winning the Championships, followed by a move to Buffalo where he Coached the Bisons of the AHL....

Under GM Keith Allen & Scout Bob Davidson, Philly was "going big" prior to Shero's hire in 71 (crowds at the Spectrum were sparse initially, however, Philadelphians did respond very favorably to aggressive hockey so....), and initially Freddie there announced he "wouldnt be employing any systems the way I did in the minors, too much respect for NHL players". That lasted all of about 3 months & systems were employed, and the following year hiring Mike Nykoluk (long time favorite in Hershey of the AHL who retired his sweater, #8 & inducted into the AHL HOF, Mike came up through the Marlies in Toronto winning a Memorial Cup as Captain, played briefly for the Leafs in the late 50's, 30, 32 games or so, Winnipeg Warriors of the WHL) as an Assistant Coach (the first in the NHL). Nykoluk left with Shero for New York, then Head Coach for 3yrs in Toronto in the early 80's, though never really standing much of a chance in the circus that was Ballard. I believe Mike Nykoluk is due much more credit for the success in Philly & in New York than is remembered & spoken about, and would be interested in filling in some of the blanks there on a thus far silent chapter in the history of Fred Shero.

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11-11-2013, 03:41 PM
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I would call Shero more of a recluse or a Hockey savant then a genius. All He did was think about hockey.

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11-11-2013, 08:56 PM
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I actually beg to differ there with your interpretation Mats. The Baby Boom had in fact kept pace with Expansion in 67/68 through 70 & then again in 72. The additional requirements for talent with the WHA coming on-line did result in a watering down as they had no such caution nor care in essentially robbing the cradle in drafting 18yr olds who werent ready from prime-time. In some cases not so much as players but as people, individuals; they lacked the maturity & seasoning that playing Junior followed by further development in the AHL or IHL provided. The business model had changed completely from the old sponsorship days yet at the management & coaching levels dinosaurs from that earlier era employed and at all levels of elite hockey.

Winning through intimidation was nothing new, an old trick in the book and one often used when facing a superior talent. Its a quick fix, low down & dirty but it works and when "winning is all", every team in the NHL followed in reaction to the Flyers & to a lesser extent the Bruins as much as possible. The WHA meanwhile marketed itself, the league populated by generally Steve Durbano types, guys who could play a bit sure but on the whole miscreants of the first order. So overall, it wasnt so much that the talent pool was shallow but had more to do with the new business realities at the amateur, Junior & Pro levels, how Managers & Coaches dealt with it. Like today whereby players are criticized for being "robotic" and "lacking a full toolbox", the hockey crafts, a very similar analogy can be drawn to those late 60's & 70's era. Its not that the talent wasnt there, its that it was put on the ice too early in a lot of cases, fighting then like system today, you complied or didnt play & so on. Its as unfair to state "70's players lacked the talent" as it is to today to state "modern players lack the same talent as 80's or 90's players". They dont. Their merely a result of Coaching strategies & weaknesses in that department, pushed & promoted up along the line today as they were then and have been ever since far too early in so many cases.
Very interesting post K. Helped me see this era in a whole new light. Nowadays, with national junior teams and World Championships for juniors (started around 76 I believe), many of these players are being exposed to intense hockey at an international level. Makes one grow up real fast for the ones who can handle it and perhaps sets back some players too. In society in general, you could argue that our current generation is growing up too soon with exposure to the Internet, sex, global violence, drugs at even younger ages than the 60's and 70's generation was exposed to (same thing was said back then). What I hear you saying is that hockey players of many generations (at least since the 60's) are pushed hard too soon for the sake of business and the entertainment industry; that kids aren't allowed to develop at their pace, experiment, even have fun. Some thrive, but how many fall? Given today is Remembrance Day, it makes me think of a saying I heard that war is about kids fighting battles for the elderly stakeholders who choose to solve their problems through violence/war. Most of war's casualties are youth. Parallels?

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11-11-2013, 09:17 PM
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Given today is Remembrance Day, it makes me think of a saying I heard that war is about kids fighting battles for the elderly stakeholders who choose to solve their problems through violence/war. Most of war's casualties are youth. Parallels?
.... I guess perhaps so, on some levels. The famous line "Hockey is a battle". The whole "we are marshall" sort of philosophy, that its a "team sport". Much of the culture of the game is indeed rooted in militaristic precepts while on the business side there was a huge sea change in transitioning from the old sponsorship structure. Amateur & junior clubs had to find new revenue streams, put butts in the seats & fight to survive. This was often done at the expense of talented players as where once patience in the development of players was demonstrated through a series of steps, an apprenticeship, that such luxuries were no longer affordable, doable. Its obviously a lot more complicated than that but sure, I guess some parallels, though hockey no matter how you cut it is after all just a game unlike war where their shooting real bullets at you and not just frozen, vulcanized rubber.

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11-12-2013, 10:13 PM
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just to note: the "bully" Shero iced the gentlemanly duo of Hedberg & Nilsson more than any other Ranger forwards. just sayin'

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11-12-2013, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Under GM Keith Allen & Scout Bob Davidson, Philly was "going big" prior to Shero's hire in 71 (crowds at the Spectrum were sparse initially, however, Philadelphians did respond very favorably to aggressive hockey so....), and initially Freddie there announced he "wouldnt be employing any systems the way I did in the minors, too much respect for NHL players".
The records I have put the Flyers' incredible attendance history as really beginning in 1969-70, which was their third year in the league. That was 91.4%, which was also the last time the team averaged below 95% capacity for a season.

The Flyers as a whole were second in fights in 1967-68, third in 1968-69, first in 1969-70, and then 13th (of 14) in 1970-71. There doesn't seem to necessarily be a correlation between the two.

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11-12-2013, 10:44 PM
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The records I have put the Flyers' incredible attendance history as really beginning in 1969-70, which was their third year in the league. That was 91.4%, which was also the last time the team averaged below 95% capacity for a season.

The Flyers as a whole were second in fights in 1967-68, third in 1968-69, first in 1969-70, and then 13th (of 14) in 1970-71. There doesn't seem to necessarily be a correlation between the two.
Well, 68/69 they were manhandled & swept by the Blues in 4 games, first round of the Playoff's. Legend has it Ed Snider ordered then GM Bud Poile, replaced eventually by Keith Allen, to get a bigger, tougher & meaner team happening which was dutifully executed. I recall watching that ESPN Special on the Flyers awhile ago, and again, anecdotal stories from Snider & others of those first few seasons, the roof blowing off the Spectrum & so on, and distinctly recall (I also had relatives in PA who confirmed as much) Snider & others stating that the market really started to respond when the team did get bigger & tougher, rough & ready, in your face South Philly style hockey. So ya, Im gonna draw a correlation between the two MB. No doubt in my mind it was that hard work, never be pushed around & never back down ethic that captivated the predominantly blue collar crowd down there by 70/71 & on.

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