Bowman, William Scott


Bowman, William Scott
▪ 1998

      In 1997 Scotty Bowman demonstrated why many considered him the greatest coach in the history of the National Hockey League as he posted his 1,000th regular-season victory, an NHL record, en route to guiding the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup championship, the team's first in 42 years. With the title—Bowman's seventh behind the bench—he became the only coach to win the Cup with three different teams, and he moved within one championship of Hector ("Toe") Blake's record (eight). Already a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (1991), Bowman had rewritten the NHL record books during his 30 years in the league. Amid speculation that he would retire after the 1996-97 season, he signed a two-year contract extension to stay on as Detroit's coach.

      Born on Sept. 18, 1933, in Montreal, Bowman dreamed of skating in the NHL, but a severe head injury sustained in junior hockey ended his playing career. He began coaching, working the bench for numerous youth, junior, and minor league teams until 1967, when he took over the reins of the St. Louis Blues, an NHL expansion team. He led the club to three Stanley Cup finals before signing with the Montreal Canadiens in 1971. Bowman quickly established Montreal as the NHL's dominant team of the 1970s, guiding it to five championships (1973 and 1976-79). In 1977 he won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year. After a stint with the Buffalo Sabres as general manager and, at times, coach (1979-87), Bowman joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's "Hockey Night in Canada" as a television commentator. In 1990 he returned to the NHL as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins' front office. As director of player development, he helped the club win the 1991 championship. When the team's coach, Bob Johnson, became ill during the 1991-92 season, Bowman assumed the responsibilities behind the bench, and the Penguins repeated as Stanley Cup champions.

      By the time he joined the Detroit Red Wings in 1993, Bowman had become as known for his mind games as for his line changes, often switching players' positions and threatening trades to motivate his athletes. Controlling and uncompromising, he often drew the ire of players and fans. His methods, however, produced results. Under his leadership the Wings finished the regular season first overall in 1995 and 1996, reached the 1995 Stanley Cup finals, and set an NHL record for most wins (62) in a season (1995-96). During the 1995-96 campaign, Bowman broke Al Arbour's record of games coached (1,606) and received his second Jack Adams Award. After Detroit swept the Philadelphia Flyers to win the 1997 championship, Bowman donned a pair of skates to take a victory lap with hockey's Holy Grail. The move was unprecedented, as were most of Bowman's achievements.

AMY TIKKANEN

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Universalium. 2010.

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