CHICAGO – Scotty Bowman’s imprint on the Detroit Red Wings stretches back 15 years. It includes three Stanley Cup titles during nine seasons as coach and a stint as a consultant that was capped by another championship a year ago.
Bowman left the franchise he helped shape to join the Chicago Blackhawks as an adviser and be with his son. Stan Bowman, in his eighth season as Chicago’s assistant general manager, is in remission after battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma the last two years.
Scotty Bowman said being close to his son has been a “top-notch” experience.
It’s also put him on the other side of one of the NHL’s oldest rivalries.
Bowman’s vast knowledge of all things hockey – the Hall of Famer has coached nine Stanley Cup winners and been a part of two others – could now help the young Blackhawks in the Western Conference final against the Red Wings.
Bowman, however, isn’t giving unsolicited advice to coach Joel Quenneville.
“I know all their trends and stuff, but at the same time he’s got to run his own stuff,” Bowman said on Saturday before the Blackhawks left for Detroit, where Game 1 is Sunday.
“You can always get information. You have to process it. That’s basically what you have to do.”
But Quenneville made it clear that Bowman’s presence has been a bonus as Chicago heads into its first conference final since 1995.
“He’s been good to have around the first two rounds, too,” Quenneville said Saturday. “… He’s good and a lot more familiar with these guys than other teams, as well. He’s going to be useful in a lot of ways.”
This season has seen the league’s youngest team emerge as a force again after missing the playoffs for most of the last decade.
“I’m surprised, but at the same time the experience they are acquiring with each and every game and series is huge,” Bowman said. “I don’t see the team changing a lot. You have to add all the time, but this is a pretty young group.”
Bowman’s assessments are highly regarded and so are his observations.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock knows that Bowman can be a huge asset in preparations.
“Scotty is a book of knowledge,” Babcock said on Saturday. “No. 1, he’s got to be willing to share with you. No. 2, you got to want it.”
Red Wings veteran Chris Chelios spent nine years with the Blackhawks and credited his old team for bringing Bowman aboard.
“Scotty knows everything,” he said. “It was just another good move Chicago made, acquiring him.”
Bowman said he’s tried to keep out of the way this season. And when he returns to Detroit, he’s going to stay under the radar if possible, despite all his old acquaintances.
“I’m going to stay low,” he said. “I’m not going to hang out. I’m not on a goodwill tour or anything like that. I’ll see them after and maybe before (games), but not during.”