Fire on ice
Bowman's passion for hockey still burns
Posted: Tuesday June 09, 1998 09:21 PM
Cup crazy: Bowman is the first coach to lead three teams to Stanley Cups (AP)|
DETROIT (AP) -- Hours before the opening game of the Stanley Cup finals,
Scotty Bowman was screaming in the Detroit Red Wings' locker
"Is that fair? Is that fair?"
The problem? The media had stayed beyond their 30-minute limit and Bowman
wanted the room cleared so he could spend more time thinking about the Washington Capitals.
That's Bowman, though. Nothing gets through the cracks. At 64, he still has
a passion for hockey, and he wants nothing more than to win.
"He has definitely picked his game up," Wings center Kris Draper said.
"The last couple of days of practices, he has asked a lot from his players
in the preparation up to the finals, as he should. He has been here and he
knows what it takes to win, a lot more times than any of us."
Bowman's coaching statistics are staggering. In 26 years, he has a
1,057-484-277 record during the regular season. He is 190-111 in the
He is the only coach to win 200 games with three teams -- Detroit, the Montreal Canadiens and
the Pittsburgh Penguins
-- and the first coach to lead three teams to Stanley Cups, winning five
with the Canadiens and one apiece with the Penguins and Red Wings, the
latter coming last season. He also has a championship ring with the
Penguins when he was player personnel director.
His seven Stanley Cup titles as a coach are one shy of the NHL record set
by Toe Blake of Montreal, one of Bowman's mentors.
Capitals coach Ron Wilson suggests Bowman might be the greatest hockey
"What I think is most impressive about Scotty is his ability to adjust over
the years," said Wilson, who took over the Capitals this year and led them
to the first final in their 24-year history.
"A lot of coaches are very regimented in how they coach, and if you look at
all of Scotty's teams from St. Louis, Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and
Detroit, everyone has been different," Wilson added. "He has been flexible
enough to start in the '60s and go through the '70s, '80s and into the
'90s, learning different things about different generations of players."
Bowman admits he was learning even in the last series against Dallas.
He had noticed on long shots against Stars goaltender Ed Belfour in Game 5
that his players weren't shooting the puck high enough. So he made a point
to let everyone on the bench know, except he forgot to mention from a
Brendan Shanahan got a breakaway shortly after that. He went up high with
his shot and put the puck right in Belfour's glove.
"You can say too much and do too much and you take away from the
spontaneous reaction that they should have," Bowman said Tuesday.
Those mistakes though are rare.
"He just has a great understanding of the game," forward Kirk Maltby said
after Tuesday's morning skate. "He is able to read other teams. It's funny,
sometimes he'll make a lineup change or change a line on the ice and that
line will score a goal, almost as if he knew it was going to happen."
And when Bowman can't make things happen, he has his team playing a system
that rarely gives an opponent much room to operate.
"Everybody believes in the system," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
said. "You take one guy out and you just put the next guy in and he plays
the same way. The system has been the key for us."
Bowman is just as vital.
"I think if you want to look around the Montreal organization and the teams
they had and the coaches they had, he drew as much as he could from them,"
Red Wings associate coach Dave Lewis said of Bowman. "He studies the game,
the players and successful situations. He leaves no detail unturned. His
record speaks for itself."
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