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PASabreFan

History-mystery: Why didn't Punch hire Fred Shero?

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I'm calling on the true old timers here. Why didn't GM Punch Imlach hire Fred Shero as his first head coach, deciding instead to coach the expansion Sabres himself? Shero had just won the Calder Cup as coach of the Bisons. Shero of course went on to win two Cups with the Flyers, one against the Sabres. He also was known as an innovator. He is credited with using "systems" in coaching, was the first head coach to hire an assistant and even was the first to write an inspirational quote on a chalkboard (warning: my source for the preceding is Wikipedia).

I'm not old enough to have much of an opinion, but I'm not sure how good Floyd Smith and Marcel Pronovost were as coaches, even Joe Crozier. Did the Sabres get outcoached in '75? Would the Sabres have won a Cup or two with Shero?

Edited by PASabreFan

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24 minutes ago, mphs mike said:

Bernie Parent is the sole reason the Sabres didn't win in '75

He was really something, those couple of peak years he had before the nerve damage, were right up there with the best ever.

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I knew Shero when he coached the Bisons.  My dad knew Frank Christie, who was the trainer.  When the Bisons played in Baltimore, I'd bang on the back door of the arena before the games, as instructed, and ask for Christie.  He'd bring me in, give me a ticket, and I'd converse with Shero during warmups.  Nice guy and, yes, really knew the game.  In any case, I heard or read somewhere he had a bit of a drinking problem (may or may not have been true).  But perhaps that was a factor in his not being hired.

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Fred Shero was under contract in the Ranger's organization (Bufflao's parent club), not the Buffalo Bison's Organization.  Shero was successful as a minor league coach before he came to Buffalo and he of course won a Championship in Buffalo in the final AHL season.  Being part of the Ranger system he went to Omaha of the CHL (a demotion of sorts) and eventually got the opportunity with the Flyers. The Rangers were run by Emile "The Cat" Francis who served as Coach and GM so Shero had to wait it out. 

Punch did not have the opportunity to hire Shero, but he probably would not have since he wanted to get back behind the bench and beat Toronto (that dam Harold Ballard).  Punch hired Joe Crozier to coach Buffalo's AHL affiliate.  Joe was "called up" when Punch got sick in the teams second season.  Joe lead them to the playoffs in the 3rd season, the famous  "Thank You Sabres" season.  Season 4 did not go well, Gil was hurt and we missed the playoffs leading Punch to replace Crozier with Floyd Smith.  Smith took the team to the Cup Finals in his first season, then they tailed off and Floyd retired, leading us to Marcel Pronovost.  He was average at best.  Within two years the Knox's moved on from Punch and Marcel and hired Scotty Bowman. 

Shero was an innovator and a great coach. Better than Punch?  Overall looking at his full career no, Punch won 4 Cups -  but for that time period he was more current and innovative and would have been fantastic for Buffalo or any team.   He was a better coach than Crozier, Floyd, and Marcel.  Of those 3 I liked Crozier the best. 

 

 

 

Edited by Pimlach
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5 hours ago, Pimlach said:

Fred Shero was under contract in the Ranger's organization (Bufflao's parent club), not the Buffalo Bison's Organization.  Shero was successful as a minor league coach before he came to Buffalo and he of course won a Championship in Buffalo in the final AHL season.  Being part of the Ranger system he went to Omaha of the CHL (a demotion of sorts) and eventually got the opportunity with the Flyers. The Rangers were run by Emile "The Cat" Francis who served as Coach and GM so Shero had to wait it out. 

Punch did not have the opportunity to hire Shero, but he probably would not have since he wanted to get back behind the bench and beat Toronto (that dam Harold Ballard).  Punch hired Joe Crozier to coach Buffalo's AHL affiliate.  Joe was "called up" when Punch got sick in the teams second season.  Joe lead them to the playoffs in the 3rd season, the famous  "Thank You Sabres" season.  Season 4 did not go well, Gil was hurt and we missed the playoffs leading Punch to replace Crozier with Floyd Smith.  Smith took the team to the Cup Finals in his first season, then they tailed off and Floyd retired, leading us to Marcel Pronovost.  He was average at best.  Within two years the Knox's moved on from Punch and Marcel and hired Scotty Bowman. 

Shero was an innovator and a great coach. Better than Punch?  Overall looking at his full career no, Punch won 4 Cups -  but for that time period he was more current and innovative and would have been fantastic for Buffalo or any team.   He was a better coach than Crozier, Floyd, and Marcel.  Of those 3 I liked Crozier the best. 

 

 

 

I've got nothing to add here but given my screen name I thought I had to get something posted.

And I remember Shero getting fired by the Rangers because his drinking problem got out of control.  He was spiking his coffee during practices.

Edited by I Remember Imlach
Typos

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Did the Rangers let him out of his contract just a year later to coach the Flyers?

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6 hours ago, PASabreFan said:

Did the Rangers let him out of his contract just a year later to coach the Flyers?

Yes.  Either that or his contract expired.  
 

Right after coaching  the Bison’s he coached another year in the Rangers Farm System leading the Omaha Knights to the CHL Championship.  The next year he took over the Flyers.  

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Thanks, everyone. It looks like the real story is Punch couldn't have hired Shero if he wanted — and he didn't want to, anyway. The first "what if" of many in team history.

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