Family takes Scotty Bowman to the Blackhawks
BY GEORGE SIPPLE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • August 1, 2008
With the blessing of the Red Wings' ownership and front office, Scotty Bowman left the organization Thursday to join the Chicago Blackhawks as a senior adviser.
Bowman, 74, spent the past 15 years with the Red Wings. After helping them win three Stanley Cup championships (1997-98, 2002) as head coach from 1993 to 2002, he has been a consultant with the team ever since.
"It wasn't easy leaving Detroit," Bowman at a news conference in Chicago. "I don't feel I would have gone to any other team. I've been retired six years. I've had teams call me."
The Blackhawks offered Bowman something the Red Wings could not -- the chance to work with one of his sons, Stan Bowman, an assistant general manager for the Blackhawks.
Scotty Bowman said Gordie Howe often told him how much he enjoyed the opportunity to play hockey with his sons. After taking a week to mull the offer, Bowman decided it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. The Bowmans had spent a lot of time together in the past year after Stan was diagnosed with lymphoma in February 2007.
"It's been a long 18 months, but thankfully I'm feeling great now and in good health," said Stan Bowman, who said he had dreamed of working with his father since he was a boy.
When Scotty Bowman called to tell the Red Wings of his decision, he said everyone -- the Ilitches, Jimmy Devellano, Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock -- told him he made the right choice.
"I really believe he's going to Chicago for personal reasons," Holland said. "I'd like to think professionally we offered him everything that he wanted, but I know he has his son involved in the Chicago Blackhawks. If you ever get a chance to work with your family, that's special."
Holland said the Wings are "indebted" to Bowman.
"He really allowed us to go from being a talented team in the mid-'90s to a championship team," Holland said. "He came in and he drove our players. He made some moves as the director of player personnel to bring in Slava Fetisov. Who is ever going to forget that?
"Who is ever going to forget him putting together the Russian Five? Or Scotty really willing Steve Yzerman to become, in my opinion, the best two-way player in the game? And obviously the championships."
Holland, regarded as one of the best general managers in hockey, said he owed a lot to Bowman on a personal level.
"One of the reasons I've become a manager in the National Hockey League was because of the winning we did," Holland said. "The opportunity to work with Scotty every day for six years is something I'll never forget."
Bowman said his role with the Blackhawks -- like Detroit, a member of the Western Conference's Central Division -- will be similar to the one he had as a consultant for the Wings. Among his tasks: He served as a sounding board for Babcock. He gave input after every game to the coaching staff and to the front office on personnel moves. He attended training camp, the first long road trip of each season, trade deadline and mid-season scouting meetings, and the NHL entry draft. Bowman also did advance scouting in the first round of the playoffs.
Bowman, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, has been a part of 11 Stanley Cup championships, including nine as a head coach. He is the NHL's all-time leader in regular-season victories (1,224) and postseason victories (223).
Contact GEORGE SIPPLE at 313-223-4796 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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