BOSTON – After weeks of interviewing while working in Ottawa, Bruins incoming General Manager Peter Chiarelli was able to get a coach in place before free agency begins this afternoon. He named former Detroit bench boss Dave Lewis to the new post in Boston as the 27th head coach in franchise history. Chiarelli didn’t hire a Scotty Bowman, instead, he hired the next best thing.
Bowman is the winningest coach in NHL history with 1,244 over five different teams. Of those five teams, he coached the Detroit Red Wings in the late 80’s through the new century. In that time, the 53-year-old Lewis spent time as Bowman’s assistant coach and associate coach. Together, the tandem brought three Stanley Cup Championships, nine Division Championships and three Presidents Trophies to the Motor City. Lewis, as head coach, won two Division titles and one Presidents Trophy following Bowman’s retirement.
“Scotty was the one I actually learned how to coach with,” said Lewis. “I coached with Jacques Demers and Bryan Murray, but Scotty was the one I learned from. He looks at the game different.
“His perspective is a lot different than any coach I’ve ever been around.”
Lewis has taken advantage of learning from the legendary Bowman and developed his own coaching style over the years. His distinct style, motivation and leadership will help the Bruins get back to their winning ways. Described as a player’s coach, Lewis plans to get every last bit of effort from every player who puts on the coveted spoked-B.
“If you say you’re a great, skilled player, show me,” he said passionately. “If you’re a character guy, show me. If you’re a tough guy, show me. If the goaltender’s going to make saves and it’s that kind of goaltender that’ll make big saves, show me.
“I want them to be successful. I want them to take the orange and squeeze the juice and make sure all the juice is out before it is thrown away.”
Lewis’ message has already started to be conveyed to the team. Newly acquired blueliner Paul Mara attended the press conference on Thursday and loved what he heard. In fact, Mara is so excited, he wants the season to start now.
“I spoke with some players I know from the Red Wings organization and heard nothing but great things about Dave,” said Mara with a gleaming smile. “I talked with him a little bit today and it’s going to be a great team.
“It’s a real exciting time to be a Bruin,” he added. “What they plan on doing to this team and whom they might try bring in is very exciting.”
Lewis also explained his thoughts on the type of player he wants to wear the Black â€˜n Gold. Luckily for the new defenseman, he fits that mold perfectly.
“I want players that are hard to play against,” said Lewis. “And when I say that, it could be a highly skilled player that’s a non-physical player, but he’s dangerous. He can score goals, he can make plays, and he can beat you in a split second. I want players who compete for ice time. In today’s game, you can have the speed and attack the net, yet you can play physical.
“That’s what I like,” he said.
Keeping everything in perspective, it will take some time for Lewis to get acquainted with the city, the fans, and the team. All things being equal, team unity will be important, he noted.
“The first thing I would like to see is how we bond and how we become a team, rather than a group of individuals,” he said. “That’s going to take some time to establish. The big thing I would like to see is supporting each other in the worst of times, not just the best of times. That’s with the wives, the training staff, their families - it’s everybody, not just the coaches, players, and management. It’s everyone. I’ve seen it and it’s hard enough to win when everybody’s on the same page. It’s impossible to win if there are any divisions or separations.”