Connections run deep at Hall of Fame

One of the endearing elements of the Hockey Hall of Fame inductions is that it is a reminder of the spiderweb nature of the game, the connections forged sometimes decades ago that beget other connections, only to see more connections spring forth.

Last year it was longtime Toronto captain Mats Sundin entering the Hall with his former teammate in Quebec Joe Sakic.

Sometimes the connections are less obvious, but no less meaningful.

For instance, the Philadelphia Flyers employed a man named Bud Poile as their general manager when they were granted an NHL expansion franchise in the 1960s.

Poile’s first head coach was Keith Allen, who played for Poile when Poile was the player-coach of the old Edmonton Flyers (Detroit’s farm team in the Western Hockey League). When Poile was relieved of his duties during the 1969-70 season, he moved on to manage another expansion franchise, the Vancouver Canucks.

Allen moved up to take Poile’s job as GM and hired Fred Shero as head coach in the summer of 1971.

Poile, meanwhile, had a son named David who joined the Atlanta Flames as an administrative assistant in 1972, ultimately moving up to assistant general manager before becoming the general manager of the Washington Capitals.

"Did you know I hired Fred Shero to scout for us?" asked David Poile, now the GM of the Nashville Predators.

After Shero won two Stanley Cups in Philadelphia, he coached the New York Rangers for parts of three seasons before being replaced by Craig Patrick. David Poile took advantage of Shero’s coaching acumen and knowledge of the Eastern Conference and hired him to provide assessment of the Capitals’ strengths and weaknesses heading into the playoffs.

"I still have all his notes, all handwritten," David Poile said. "Which I will give to Ray someday."

Ray, as in Ray Shero, the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, as in the younger of Fred Shero's two sons.

Long after his brief connection with Fred Shero, David Poile hired Ray Shero as an assistant general manager of the expansion Predators in July 1997.

The two worked together until Ray Shero took over the Penguins in the summer of 2006. Today their hockey lives continue to intersect as Ray Shero is the assistant GM to David Poile, who is the GM of the 2014 U.S. Olympic team.

There are other commonalities between the two men.

David Poile’s father, Bud, is also an honored member of the Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1990, the same year that Fred Shero succumbed to cancer. David Poile, who spoke on behalf of his ailing father at his induction ceremony, understands the emotions that will be brought to bear when Ray Shero speaks on behalf of his father Monday in Toronto.

"For someone like Ray, it will bring back a flood of memories," David Poile said.

There will be memories of being a child and having a father intimately involved in the game and how that passion for the game has been passed through the genes to another generation in the Shero family.

"It’s a neat time. It’s a very special time for you and your family," David Poile said.