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Scotty and Stan Bowman share a Stanley Cup triumph

by John McGourty
After winning his first Stanley Cup as coach of the Montreal Canadiens in 1973, William Scott "Scotty" Bowman told his pregnant wife Suella, "If it's a boy, let's name him Stanley."

Thirty-six years later, Bowman and his son, Stan, the general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, stood at center ice at Philadelphia's Wachovia Center on Wednesday night to accept the 2010 Stanley Cup. Less than a year after he ascended to the role of GM, Stan Bowman beamed as the club he managed delivered to Chicago fans their first Stanley Cup since 1961.

"I feel like those commercials they play when the guys don't know what to say," Stan Bowman said following the 4-3 overtime win in Game 6. "It's hard to put into words what it means right now. It's something I've dreamed of. I've been fortunate with my father to be around the Cup quite a bit.

"My son being there makes it very special." -- Scotty Bowman

"But this is different because I had a hand in it. I'm just so proud of our guys. We really earned it and it's a great group in there. They're resilient. They fought through it. It wasn't easy for us. We stuck in there when there were some difficult times. They really showed their true colors tonight. I'm proud of them."

While it was Stan's first Stanley Cup, it was the 12th for Scotty Bowman, the most successful coach in NHL history. But this time, Scotty was winning in his role as senior adviser for hockey operations. Bowman coached the Canadiens to five Stanley Cups and the Detroit Red Wings to three more.

He won the 1991 Stanley Cup as player personnel director for the Pittsburgh Penguins, then stepped back behind the bench the next season when Penguins coach Bob Johnson fell ill with the cancer that claimed his life. Scotty Bowman claimed his 11th Stanley Cup as a special consultant to the Red Wings when they won in 2008.

The elder Bowman said there was a comparison between this team coming into its maturity with leaders like captain Jonathan Toews, Pat Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Dustin Byfuglien and his Penguins team led by Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and goalie Tom Barrasso. He served as a sounding board both for Johnson and current Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

"It was a good ride there because the team had come sort of like this, from nowhere," Scotty Bowman said in comparing the two teams. "The pieces were falling into place fast. Bob was a great coach, as is Joel. I traveled that first year and it was so enjoyable. I didn't have to coach and I was with them all the time. Bob and I traded information with each other and then he got tragically ill. Then I decided the next year I wasn't going to do it for more than a couple of months. But we were struggling and the (general) manager, Craig Patrick said, 'It's not a kind of a job for a young guy. Maybe you can just steer us to the end of the year.' Then we won the Cup."

The formula for winning the Stanley Cup is to have great goaltending, a solid defense and dangerous scorers led by a savvy coach. The Blackhawks have that, Scotty Bowman said. People doubted Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi before he got the job done but no one doubts him now, he added.

"Goaltending was supposed to be an issue when Niemi didn't play much the first three or four months of the season but Joel rode him the last month and got him ready for the playoffs," he said. "I think he did a terrific job."

Stan Bowman marveled at the way his rookie goalie pushed aside distractions and challenges in his quiet, stoic way.

"Antti deserves so much credit. He's a guy who has battled to prove he belongs in the league, first of all, to prove he deserves to be a starter and then he proves he belongs to be a Stanley Cup goalie," he said. "Every time he's been given that challenge he's risen to it. He's come a long way in a short amount of time. He's got that great personality of being able to bounce back when things don't go your way. He just brushes it off and goes to the next time. I'm just really proud of him. He's earned it."

While Scotty Bowman rose from player to coach to (Buffalo Sabres) general manager and other front-office positions, Notre Dame graduate Stan Bowman joined the Blackhawks in 2001 as special assistant to then-GM Mike Smith. Four years later, he was promoted to director of hockey promotions. He became assistant general manager to GM Dale Tallon in 2007 and general manager last July.

Then the Blackhawks lured Scotty Bowman to join the organization. The elder Bowman was at first torn between his love for Red Wings' owners Mike and Marian Ilitch and the desire to be with Stan, who had been struggling with cancer. The Ilitches made Scotty Bowman's decision easy. 

"It's always tough to leave an organization. I was very settled in Detroit," Scotty Bowman said. "When I retired (as Red Wings coach) in 2002, I just wanted to be with the team and they said you can stay here as long as you want. That made me feel good. Then when Stan got sick -- he got Hodgkins twice and then he got a stem-cell (transplant) -- I got a call from Dale Tallon at the time and they said they were looking for a senior guy.

"He and Stan were very close. It was a situation where I called the Detroit people and they said, 'It's not a decision and you should go.' So, that helped me out, and I felt good about going and try to help them."

The Ilitches have done a lot more than has been published to help members of the Red Wings' "family," and because of that Scotty Bowman said he will always feel a part of that family.

"They're still my great friends," he said. "When we're not playing, I pull for them and I feel they do the same for me."

Scotty Bowman was asked what it meant to him to deliver, with his son, a Stanley Cup to Chicago after a 49-year drought -- after all, he had a big hand in that drought.

"My first Stanley Cup in Montreal, we won (the clinching) Game 6 in Chicago and then when I went to Pittsburgh, we won (the clinching) Game 4 in Chicago," he said. "I worked in Montreal under the late (GM) Sam Pollack and one of his closest friends was Tommy Ivan, who was the manager of the Hawks.

"When you think about it, the Blackhawks got better over the last three years. Last year, they got to the third round and lost three games in overtime. I guess that's part of the thing you have to do before you win. Coming into this year, we wondered if we could duplicate it. I mean the West is real tough, there's some great teams in there. But they won 52 games and the Stanley Cup.

"My son being there makes it very special."

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