"When you're a young guy, you don't think you're going to get sick. When you do, it's a real shock."
-- Stan Bowman on being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma
The knowledge he obtained as a youngster certainly paid dividends during his last eight seasons in the Blackhawks' front office -- including the previous two as the assistant general manager under Dale Tallon.
His favorite childhood memories include sitting in the same room with his father, Scotty, while he talked trades with a GM or assistant coach. Stan Bowman, 36, hopes to put those lessons to good use as Chicago's new general manager.
"People who know me characterize me as a serious guy, but I'm smiling more today than I normally would and excuse me for that because this is a dream come true," Stan Bowman said Tuesday during a news conference announcing his promotion. "The Blackhawks are a wonderful organization and an Original Six franchise, and I've spent the last eight years here working my way up."
As an assistant GM for the past two seasons, Stan Bowman's responsibilities included CBA-related matters such as contract negotiations, free agency, salary arbitration, player movement and player assignment. He worked closely with Tallon, attending to day-to-day administration of the Blackhawks' hockey department.
"I'd like to thank Dale Tallon," Stan said of his predecessor, who was reassigned to the role of Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations. "Dale and I worked a number of years together and he's been a tremendous mentor. The fact he'll remain on board (as senior adviser) with us is very meaningful for me."
Stan's change in job title shouldn't be too big a transition based on his front-office experience. But perhaps even more remarkable is his success away from the rink.
The father of two sons, Bowman has beaten Hodgkin's lymphoma twice and has been in remission for a year. The initial diagnosis came in February 2007, when he was 33.
"When you're a young guy, you don't think you're going to get sick," Bowman said at the time. "When you do, it's a real shock."
A treatment plan put the cancer in a brief remission, but it returned 10 months later. With the help of family friend Wayne Gretzky, Bowman underwent a painful stem-cell transplant. The procedure required doctors to remove blood from his bone marrow and separate the cells before replenishing the blood.
During this period, Bowman had a rookie named Patrick Kane living in the basement of his Chicago home. There's no question Bowman's love for life and family, as well as his determination to help build a successful hockey franchise, were big influences on Kane. The youngster won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 2008.
Stan Bowman graduated from Notre Dame in 1995 with degrees in finance and computer applications and started his career as a consultant for Arthur Andersen while working for a smaller consulting firm. He used this experience when he joined the Blackhawks, working on financial budgets and developing programs to track player movement and evaluations.
Stan Bowman's greatest moment may have occurred last year when his father was hired by the Blackhawks as a senior adviser. It provided an opportunity for the two to work together closely -- something both always had wanted.
"I spoke to my dad (Monday) night, and I think it's amazing to have him on my side because I've been interested in hockey since I was a little kid because of my father and I always had an idea I'd be in hockey," Stan said. "I was in the business world for a bit but I was always passionate about hockey. My dad was a great resource to bounce ideas off of because he was involved in every situation you could imagine in this business. It was great when he came aboard a year ago with the Blackhawks, and I'd be crazy not to use his experience."
As GM, that special bond will continue to flourish.
This past season, the Bowmans reveled in the fact Chicago's 46 wins and 104 points were the franchise's most since 1992-93. The Blackhawks are the only team in the NHL to improve its record in each of the past four seasons -- and, most important, were back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Hawks beat Calgary and Vancouver before losing a five-game series to the Red Wings in the Western Conference Final.
"We just completed a wonderful season but didn't end up with ultimate goal -- winning the Stanley Cup," Stan Bowman said. "We're an exciting team but the thing that's most important is we want to sustain that excellence and I'm not going to be satisfied until we win the Cup and we're going to set up to do that. I've lived here 14 years and it's essentially my home and it's amazing what the city has gone through -- the support the fans have shown and the fever and intensity every home game."
Bowman feels the experience he gained under Tallon will only benefit him in his new role.
"I come from an analytical background and like to process information," he said. "I was exposed to different areas of hockey operations and my strength would be not to make rash decisions; rather, collect as much information as possible in making the right decision. I've learned taking that type of approach -- where there's a process in place -- is the right way to do things."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org