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Bowman to be 'Hawk eyes, Chicago all ears

by John McGourty
William Scott "Scotty" Bowman has done everything in hockey, from playing professionally to scouting to coaching to being a general manager. In the process, he's won 11 Stanley Cups, nine as a coach, including five with the Montreal Canadiens, one with the Pittsburgh Penguins and three with the Detroit Red Wings. He also won the Stanley Cup in 1991 as the Penguins' director of player development and again in 2008 as special consultant to the general manager (Ken Holland) of the Detroit Red Wings.

A little more than a month after the Red Wings won their fourth Stanley Cup in Bowman's 13-year tenure, he accepted an offer to become the senior advisor of hockey operations for the Chicago Blackhawks.

On the surface, jumping to a division rival would seem like a move out of the Benedict Arnold playbook, but there's more to the story. Bowman always has been a dedicated family man and one who erects a firewall between work and home, his public face and his private life.

While his former employers, Mike and Marian Ilitch, owners of the Red Wings, are fiercely competitive, they are equally fiercely family oriented and Bowman held the one key that would gracefully open the exit door: Family concerns.

By moving to Chicago, Bowman has given us a rare look at his familial feelings. Bowman's son, Stan, is the Blackhawks' assistant general manager, hockey operations, and he's been through two rough years, battling lymphoma into remission. Stan tipped off his boss, Dale Tallon, that his dad might be willing to join the ranks, and a few weeks later, Scotty Bowman was working for the revitalized Blackhawks.

It's a great pickup for the Blackhawks because Bowman is the most consistent winner in NHL history. The teams he coached made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 29 of his 30 seasons and he won an NHL-record 1,244 regular-season games and 223 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Bowman won the Stanley Cup in 30 percent of the years that he coached!

Tallon has put together a promising group of young players, led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, that appear poised to compete for the Central Division lead. Bowman shared with his expectations of his new role: -- You have been a general manager in St. Louis and Buffalo, player personnel director in Pittsburgh and coach in St. Louis, Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Detroit. That puts you in position to advise a club in every aspect of its operations. Do your duties extend to advising in all areas or will you focus strictly on hockey operations?

Bowman -- "I will be functioning in areas similar to what I did with the Detroit Red Wings. I will be attending training camp and watching some training camp preseason games. I'll be making an early season road trip with the team and I will be keeping my eye on their farm team players.

"I'll be going to a lot of games in Tampa after I head down to my residence in Sarasota. When I'm in that area, I'll be keeping an eye on the whole NHL for Chicago. And, I'll be in touch with the coaching staff on at least a weekly basis. -- Will you primarily being advising Dale Tallon? Tell me some enjoyable aspects of your dealings with Dale.

Bowman -- "I'll be talking with both Dale and Denis Savard and the new coach in Rockford, Bill Peters. He just came out of junior hockey and was an assistant coach with Mike Babcock in juniors before Mike went pro. I'll also be consulting with the scouting staff, having similar scouting meetings as I did in Detroit. We'll have a midseason meeting, a trade-deadline meeting and meetings before the June draft.

"I'm there to be another set of eyes for everyone in the organization who wants to get in touch with me. There's really no change in status from what I did in Detroit. I'll be watching games and keeping an eye on all NHL teams."

"I've known Dale Tallon a long time. It's kind of a deja vu situation because Dale's father, Stan, was a scout for me when I was the Montreal Canadiens' head scout in the 1960s after I left Peterborough. I was scouting Eastern Ontario and Stan Tallon was my Northern Ontario scout out of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. Stan is still alive, in his 80s, and living north of Toronto. He was a pretty good senior-hockey player in his day. I'm going back 47 years here! We had a lot of good times together." -- Did you have a hand in this summer's promotion of Mike Haviland as assistant coach and the subsequent hiring of Bill Peters as coach of the AHL Rockford IceDogs? (In his third year as a head coach, he led the Western Hockey League champion Spokane Chiefs to the 2008 Memorial Cup championship. Peters was Mike Babcock's assistant coach in Spokane.)

Bowman -- "The promotions of Mike Haviland and Bill Peters were done prior to my joining the Blackhawks. I haven't been involved in any of those decisions. They did consult me on the recent trade of Robert Lang to Montreal." -- Do your responsibilities extend to monitoring and advising about the Fresno Falcons, Chicago's ECHL affiliate? Coach Matt Thomas goes into his fourth year as GM/coach as does assistant coach/GM Ryan Mougenel. That stability seems to indicate they are doing a good job.

Bowman -- "No, they'll have people looking after that. I do go to some ECHL games in Fort Myers, Fla. I try to do one turn around the league, but other people cover it on steady basis for the Blackhawks." -- Rick Dudley and Stan Bowman are assistant GMs. Stan for hockey operations. How are their responsibilities divided and will you be advising both? Stan battled cancer recently and it's now in remission. This must a wonderful opportunity for you and your son to work toward the same goals.

Bowman -- "Rick Dudley scours the NHL and the minor professional leagues all the time. He's a game guy and he's also at all kinds of tournaments. He does amateur and pro scouting. Rick has a really good handle on talent.

"My son, Stan, works closely with Dale in the office, dealing with transactions and keeping an eye on Rockford. Stan goes to a lot of Rockford games and does a lot of the same kind of work that Assistant GM Jim Nill does in Detroit. He translates a lot of scouts' reports and the head scout works with him. Stan is in charge of all documentation and he keeps on top of the salary cap and the changes in the rules. Ryan Martin does some of that kind of work in Detroit."

"Because of what Stan went through, I have a chance to be with him and help him.  It wasn't easy for me to leave a team as strong as the Red Wings, but they understood our situation. I'll miss them. I worked with the Red Wings organization for 15 years. Now, we are friendly competitors. I spoke with everyone about what I was doing.
"I will be attending training camp and watching some training camp preseason games. I'll be making an early season road trip with the team and I will be keeping my eye on their farm team players. I'll be going to a lot of games in Tampa after I head down to my residence in Sarasota. When I'm in that area, I'll be keeping an eye on the whole NHL for Chicago. And, I'll be in touch with the coaching staff on at least a weekly basis." – Scotty Bowman on his role with the Blackhawks
"I didn't have to do a lot of explaining to Mr. Ilitch. Mike and Marian understood the situation. Stan is doing a lot better. It's always a battle, but he has battled back. He works full time and didn't take any time off." -- The general consensus of opinion is that you are one of, if not the best, bench coach in the history of the game, particularly in the area of matchups. Will you be advising Denis Savard on bench-management matters?

Bowman --
"The coach has to run his own team. I had this same situation with Toe Blake when I was coaching the Canadiens and I was very fortunate to have his experience when I needed answers to questions. I will do that for Denis. Everyone coaches his own way. If I see something, I will help him and come forth with anything that I think will help him.

"But Denis has a nice staff. Assistant coach John Torchetti was there last year and did a good job. The other assistant, Mark Hardy, went back to the Los Angeles Kings and that made sense because he has a house out there. They elevated Mike Haviland, who has been a coach for them at Norfolk and Rockford. Those are the big voices that Denis will be counting on and they've both been head coaches. Anything I can help with, I will. They have to run their team and can't worry what I think. If I can give a boost at the right time, I will." -- Blackhawks President John F. McDonough has made an impression as an idea man with a new perspective in our sport. Tell me about your interaction with him. That must have been a factor in your taking this job.

Bowman --
"John interviewed me after there was interest on both sides. He's hands on and he's got a world of experience after being with the Chicago Cubs for 24 years, the latter stages as their president. He's great in the area of knowing Chicago sports, what works and what doesn't. He's a great addition, an idea guy who is strong in all areas. He doesn't profess to be a hockey man but he wants to keep everyone onside so he coordinates all departments. He's getting people involved with all aspects of the organization. John is a good people person who has been a tremendous asset."

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