Stan Bowman forging his own path to success

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DELMAR JOHNATHON

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Ice Hockey News
  • Stan Bowman forging his own path to success

Stan Bowman forging his own path to success

 

Last spring, Stan Bowman’s name was engraved on the Stanley Cup as the general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks. This wasn’t the first time that Bowman name found its way to the Cup. Stan’s father is legendary NHL coach Scotty Bowman, who has coached a record nine Stanley Cup teams, including five with his home town team the Montreal Canadiens (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979), one with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1992) and three with the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998, 2002.) Stan is even named after the illustrious trophy, having been born a month and a half after the first time the elder Bowman first raised the cup in 1973.

Other than hockey sense and his name, Stan doesn’t take much else from his dad however. “I think you have to just do things your own way,” Stan told Yahoo Sports. “You can’t try to be somebody else. You can’t get out of your comfort zone,” said of Bowman in relation to his legendary father. “I’ve just tried to be myself here, and by that I mean I’ve got my own style. I’m not my dad.”

Stan always knew that coaching wasn’t for him. Stan’s father was known for being unpredictable be it in game or in practice. Under Scotty Bowman, players were always on their toes, never really knowing what was coming next. “The most successful coaches are a little bit more fiery, a little bit more reactive,” Stan said of his father. “That’s never been my style.”

Scotty Bowman, like most NHL coaches, played Junior Hockey. That is, until he was forced to hang up his skates because of a fractured skull. Unable to play, Bowman turned to coaching. After 10 years of coaching minor league teams, the Verdun native found his way onto the St. Louis Blues.

Stan, on the other hand, never played Junior Hockey. Instead, the young Bowman went to the University Of Notre Dame where he studied Finance and Computer Applications. Stan graduated in 1995.

Instead of trying for law school as he had originally planned Bowman spent five years working for Arthur Anderson in Chicago. Realizing it wasn’t his passion, Bowman decided to try and get into hockey. His father wasn’t about to give him any help though. “You have to get there on your own” Scotty told him. So, Stan wrote to the Blackhawks executives, using his computer and finance skills as selling points.

In 2001, Stan joined the Chicago Blackhawks organization as a special assistant General Manager. Stan climbed the ladder of the Blackhawks front office; in July 2009, he was named General Manager after Dale Tallon was demoted to senior advisor in the wake of a controversy regarding the contracts of various Blackhawks Restricted Free Agents.

Despite inevitable Salary Cap struggles, Bowman recognized the potential and the youth core of the team Tallon had left him with. Before season’s end, Stan signed core Blackhawks players Johnathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith to lengthy and lucrative contract extensions.

“So much was talked about our salary cap situation,” said Bowman to his Yahoo Sports. “When you have that many good players, there’s only so much money to go around, so it causes a problem managing it. But I wouldn’t want the alternative.” Despite keeping their core intact, Bowman and the Hawks organization were forced to part ways with 10 players from the team that brought the cup back to Chicago for the first time in nearly 50 years.

It wasn’t an easy climb to the top for Bowman however. In February 2007, Stan was diagnosed with Hodkin’s lymphoma. “I wasn’t doing well,” said the Bowman, who was just 34 at the time of his diagnosis.

But through the hardship, a special relation between Stan and his father was born. Stan had always thought that it would be great to work with his father, but Scotty had become a die-hard Red Wing by that time. Even after retiring in 2002, the elder Bowman stayed with Detroit as a consultant.

Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch even offered to bring Stan to the Red Wings so that he could be close to his father. Scotty refused however, insisting that Stan had to do his own thing. After the Red Wings won another cup in 2008, Scotty was given permission to join his son as part of the Blackhawks, a bitter division rival of the Red Wings.

“It was a difficult time for me personally. To have him there work-wise and personally was a nice comfort, said Stan of his dad’s decision to switch teams.
Today, Bowman’s cancer is remission and he says he feels better than ever before. He got to win a cup alongside his father, and feel s that he learned a lot through his trying experience. “In hindsight, I certainly grew up a lot and learn a lot through the process” confided Bowman. “I don’t know if I would want to experience it the way that I did, but I think it probably did help me gain a lot of perspective going through that.”

 

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