Scotty beams up confidence

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Patrick Kane marvelled when he looked over at Scotty Bowman on the Chicago Blackhawks charter flight here for last night's Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal.

"It probably would have been pretty easy for him to stay in Chicago, watch the game on TV and wait for Game 6 back home," said Kane of Bowman putting himself through a four-hour flight for one hockey game.

"He's 76 or 77 years old and he still really wants to be a part of it, he still wants to be there. He's a really special person."

Bowman won't be 76 until September, but Kane is right. Bowman may be in the background and intentionally keeping out of the spotlight, but he's still Scotty Bowman.

"I talk to him almost every day," said Kane.

"I'll just see him in the hallway. He's just got such a great hockey mind, it's great to have him around."

Jonathan Toews said Bowman has become a study for the young Hawks.

'TINY DETAILS'

"He just kind of pops up and reads your mind and gives you advice. It's little tiny details that make such a difference."

Coach Joel Quenneville spent most of the travel day with Bowman and says you'd be nuts to not take advantage of having the greatest coach in the history of hockey around.

"I sat with him on the plane coming here. We watched the games on TV after we landed. He's the best hockey mind ever. Scotty sees so many things you wouldn't otherwise give any consideration."

Bowman was named Blackhawks senior advisor of hockey operations at the start of the season after being part of 11 Stanley Cup championship teams, including nine as a coach.

The NHL's all-time leader with 1,224 regular-season wins, he spent the previous seven seasons in a similar role with the Detroit Red Wings, where he expected to remain as long as he wanted to do this sort of thing.

Then one day his son Stan, assistant GM with the Blackhawks, gave him a call.

"In July he called and asked if I'd ever consider leaving Detroit," Bowman said of his son, who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"He had a good scan a couple of weeks ago," he said of the recovery Stan has made.

His son explained how Chicago had a plan to turn the organization into one of excellence and how they wanted him to play a part in it.

Being able to work with his son, especially considering the circumstances, made it very attractive.

"I was more concerned how I'd leave them," Bowman said of Ken Holland and the Detroit organization.

"When I went to Detroit, I went with the intention of coaching for two years and then being part of the organization the way Keith Allen stayed involved in Philadelphia and Toe Blake did with the Montreal Canadiens when I took over as coach.

"I didn't want to be disloyal and leave."

The Red Wings gave him their blessing.

"The great thing is that it makes it so much easier to talk hockey with my son. It's sometimes not been so easy because we've been on different sides."

It would be interesting, Bowman admits, if Detroit and Chicago end up playing each other in the Western Conference final.

"My wife and I would have to go somewhere," he said. "It would be tough."

The job is essentially the same as Bowman did in Detroit.

VERY SIMILIAR

"It's very similar to Detroit. The difference is that I knew those guys so well. I coached a lot of them. Here ... well, I knew Patrick Kane from living in Buffalo. Some of his relatives are really good friends. But it's an entirely different group."

Bowman sees a lot of comparisons between this Hawks team and the Edmonton Oilers of the early 1980s.

"They don't have a lot of veterans. The trick now is that with the salary cap it's not that easy to grow together.

"Joel reminds me a lot of Glen Sather the way he's had the same kind of effect on them, making them responsible players and pros on and off the ice.

"And what I really like is they way the guys on this team seem to like to see each other get better.

"Last year this team was just Toews and Kane, but that's not the case now."

Bowman has been involved with some of the greatest teams in history.

This looks like it's going to be another one.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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