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Stanley Cup 125th Anniversary

Scotty Bowman cherishes Stanley Cup memories

14-time winner shares stories as hockey's biggest prize turns 125

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / Columnist

Editor's note: The Stanley Cup turns 125 years old on March 18. To celebrate the historic anniversary, talked to the players and coaches who dedicated their lives to winning the Stanley Cup, some succeeding, some failing, but all with incredible stories about their quest for hockey's ultimate prize.


MONTREAL -- Scotty Bowman's name is on the Stanley Cup 14 times -- nine times as an NHL coach, another five as an executive -- so it stands to reason that he probably has a few good stories about the grandest prize in hockey.

Tell him that, as a coach, his given name appears on the Cup six times as Scotty and three times as Scott, and his stories begin to flow.

"Pittsburgh Penguins, 1990-91," he said with a laugh. "You'll find the name 'M. Lemieux,' just a first initial (as with every player) for the team captain, and above Mario you'll find the full name and title of John Welday, the team's strength and conditioning coach, taking up almost a full line (beside scout Greg Malone).

"Montreal Canadiens, 1974-75, Bob Gainey's name is misspelled as 'Gainy.' And one more: defenseman Don Awrey won the Cup with Boston in 1970 and 1972, then was traded to Montreal in 1974. He played all 11 of our playoff games in 1975, a year we didn't win, then 72 games in 1975-76 before he broke his leg near the end of the season, which kept him out of the playoffs. He got a Stanley Cup ring but he didn't get his name on the Cup."

Bowman's name is tapped into the trophy's sterling bands with four teams: as coach of the Canadiens in 1973 and 1976-79; of the Penguins in 1992; of the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, 1998 and 2002; and as an executive with the Penguins (1991), Red Wings (2008) and Chicago Blackhawks (2010, 2013 and 2015).

It is the first and last of Bowman's nine championships as a coach that stand out most to him, titles separated by 29 years.

"They're all special, but the first I won with Montreal in 1973 stands out, as does 2002 with Detroit because I knew I'd not be coming back to coach that fall," he said. "What I didn't know was that I'd win a few more in team management."

Bowman's first championship came in his second year as the Canadiens coach, following three seasons and change with the St. Louis Blues. He keenly remembers the 1973 Stanley Cup Final, a six-game series against Chicago, the title clinched on the road.

"We won the first two at home, split in Chicago, then lost Game 5 at home, 8-7, with Ken Dryden in our net and Tony Esposito in theirs," he said. "Then we went to Chicago and won 6-4. Bizarre. Imagine, 25 goals in two games of a Cup Final scored against the two top goalies of the 1970s."

Bowman, 83, recalls a large crowd awaiting the Canadiens at the airport when their charter flight touched down in Montreal, and having his parents at a dinner organized in a hotel ballroom a few nights later for players, management, office staff and families.

"We took a lot of pictures," Bowman said. "My parents were quiet people, they didn't say very much. They came to Canada from Scotland in 1929 and my dad was very interested in soccer because he'd played it over there. They didn't go to a lot of hockey games but they were excited for me."

Of his five championships with the Canadiens, only one was clinched on home ice, in 1979 against the New York Rangers.

Bowman had enjoyed a brush with the Stanley Cup 16 years before he arrived with the Canadiens, when he was a young assistant to Sam Pollock with the Ottawa Junior Canadiens in 1956-57. With Pollock often on the road managing the Canadiens farm system, Bowman ran many of Ottawa's practices.

"I got to be pretty friendly with a gentleman of about 80 who'd come to practices well-dressed, wearing a trenchcoat," he said.

The dapper rink rat was Bouse Hutton, a 1903 and 1904 pre-NHL Stanley Cup winner with the Ottawa Silver Seven. The former goaltender was a terrific multisport athlete in his prime, once winning Canadian lacrosse and football championships and the Stanley Cup in the same year.

Hutton's name doesn't appear on the Cup -- only team names without rosters were engraved in his day -- but Bowman greatly enjoyed listening to the old-timer's stories and did some research to learn much about his storied career.

"Bouse was very quiet," he said. "But he was still living in Ottawa in 1956 he and wanted to come out to see us."

Bowman has a huge catalog of Stanley Cup memories, including one span when the Canadiens won the title in May 1976 with a stunning four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers, before he coached Canada to victory in the Canada Cup that September and his wife, Suella, gave birth to twins in October.

"That was a pretty good year," he said.

The following season, 1976-77, wasn't terrible, either. Bowman's Canadiens successfully defended the Cup following an unthinkable 60-8-12 regular season. Captain Yvan Cournoyer has said he would have called a meeting of the players if Montreal had lost two in a row, which never happened.

"I know we lost only once all year at home, to Boston on Halloween (eve)," Bowman said, his team sweeping St. Louis in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, defeating the New York Islanders in six games in the second round and sweeping the Boston Bruins in the Final.

Video: Memories: Scotty Bowman's 1,000th win as head coach

With the Penguins having won the championship in 1991, Bowman attended a June dinner of the Canadian Society of New York at Manhattan's Waldorf Astoria hotel, bringing Suella and the Stanley Cup as his guests. A bellman rolled the trophy case up to the couple's room late that night, Bowman charged with the responsibility of getting the priceless Cup safely back to their summer home in Buffalo and on to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

"They kept reminding me, 'Don't let this case out of your sight,'" he said. "I was happy when it came off the plane in Buffalo."

Bowman's name had his name added to the Cup most recently in 2015 as the Blackhawks' senior adviser of hockey operations, reporting to his son, Stan, Chicago's general manager. Scotty Bowman will from time to time cross paths with the trophy, one that in many ways has defined his professional life and almost serves as his calling card.

A Stanley Cup winner will often give the trophy a close look to find his or her name, to run a finger over the letters.

"It's funny, I don't," Bowman said. "Do you think I should?"

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