Being the son of the winningest coach in the National Hockey League has some perks. But for all the championship games he watched in person and all the time spent in league locker rooms as a kid, Stan Bowman’s favorite hockey memory isn’t of a particular game or player. It’s the moment in high school when he told his dad he wanted to quit playing hockey.
“I felt almost scared to quit because my dad was a big, famous coach, but I wasn’t having fun,” admits Bowman. To his relief, the most successful coach in hockey — Scotty Bowman’s name appears on the Stanley Cup 12 times — didn’t care. “He said, ‘If you’re not having fun, then don’t play’.”
After a year away from the game, Bowman came back and had more fun than ever. “I was playing for the enjoyment of it. It wasn’t an obligation; it was because I wanted to play. My dad was fine with it — he never pushed me to do anything.”
It’s a lesson Bowman, 37, and his wife, Suzanne, have used raising their sons, Will, 8, and Cam, 5. The boys love watching and playing the game, but if they want to try something else, that’s OK too.
As for Bowman, today he’s fully entrenched in the game, having worked his way up from compiling stats to making the final hockey operations decisions as the youngest general manager in the NHL.
Ice hockey and the Stanley Cup have been part of Stan Bowman’s DNA from the day he was born and named after hockey’s greatest prize. “I was able to share in a lot of my dad’s successes by being at games throughout the years when they won the Cup. I guess it’s come full circle now,” says Bowman.
“Since the day he’s come in, we’ve known what type of experience and knowledge he has of the game,” says Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “His knowledge of hockey and the family he’s from mean a lot for sure.”
Growing up, Bowman knew he’d work in hockey some day, but it wouldn’t be as a player or coach. “I always played hockey, but I didn’t have the natural talent, and I didn’t have the makeup to be a coach. I’m more analytical, and I think to be a coach you need to be more emotional, fiery and aggressive. You can’t pretend to be that.”
It’s hard to imagine anything ruffling Bowman, who is as low-key as they come.
“I’ve been in sports for 30 years and managed all kinds of personalities,” says Blackhawks President John McDonough, “and I really respect the calculated, analytical way he goes about his business. He’s fairly quiet, but I can see that engine roaring all the time.