Young Hawks learning from a mastermind

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Patrick Kane looked at Scotty Bowman on the Chicago Blackhawks' charter flight here for Game 5 and marvelled.

"It probably would have been pretty easy for him to stay in Chicago, watch the game on TV and wait for Game 6 back there," 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. I think he just loves the game so much. 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 Scotty Bowman.

"I talk to him almost every day," Kane said. "I'll just see him in the hallway. He just has such a great hockey mind, it's great to have him around."

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

"He just kind of pops up and reads your mind and gives you advice."

Coach Joel Quenneville spent most of the travel day with Bowman and says you'd be nuts not to 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 don't give any consideration."

Bowman was named Blackhawks senior adviser, hockey operations, at the start of the season after being part of 11 Stanley Cup winning teams including nine as a coach. The career 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 general manager of hockey operations with the Blackhawks, gave him a call.

"In July he called asked if I'd ever consider leaving Detroit," said Bowman of his son who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. "He had a good scan a couple of weeks ago," Bowman 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 attractive.

"I was more concerned how I'd leave them," Bowman said of GM 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.

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."

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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