April 30, 2010
Next month, Brendan Shanahan will do something that would have seemed blasphemous at one point during his legendary NHL career: Helping someone outcoach Scotty Bowman.
Shanahan and Bowman are taking part in Season 2 of "REPLAY the Series," a joint effort between Gatorade and FOX Sports Net that re-stages games between big high-school rivals in different sports.
In May, the focus will be on the Trenton Trojans and the Detroit Catholic Central Shamrocks hockey teams, who will replay a game from the 1999 season that was ended prematurely at 4-4 after Trenton player Kurt LaTarte had his jugular vein cut in a collision.
Current New Jersey Devils defenseman Andy Greene, playing for Trenton, "hip-checked a Catholic Central forward, whose skate went up in the air and caught Kurt (LaTarte) in the neck," said coach Mike Turner, whom Shanahan will advise in the game. Turner said LaTarte skated to the bench at first unaware of the injury. You can see some footage of the incident under the "1999" banner on the Replay Web site, with LaTarte skating off after the hit.
The Trenton and DCC players are taking part in an eight-week program developed by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute to prepare for the game. In addition, Bowman and Shanahan ran practices and will advise the Catholic Central (Bowman) and Trenton (Shanahan) teams during the game.
"I think it's a great concept because regardless of what sport you play in, there's always that feeling that you'd love to go back and have another chance at a certain event," said Shanahan, who played under Bowman on three Stanley Cup championships for the Detroit Red Wings.
We spoke with Shanahan this week about the REPLAY game; coaching against Bowman; the game he'd most like to play again in his career; how his competition committee helped make the NHL fun again; the New Jersey Devils' collapse; and, most of all, what his theories are about the end of ABC's sci-fi series "Lost", as an admitted super-fan. Enjoy.
Note: Shanny was on the clock so we couldn't get too in-depth with him.
Q. What kind of game do you expect out of these teams? Is it going to be like an all-star game or something more competitive?
SHANAHAN: Oh, I think both teams are in this to win. I just got off the ice with the Trenton Trojans and they had that look in their eye that they came to play. They've obviously been thinking about this for years, and they're in this game to win it.
Are you actually coaching against Scotty Bowman?
I'm coaching the Trenton team with their old high school coach and he's honorary coach for Central. When the folks from Gatorade approached me for this, outside of the concept I was drawn to a little bit of the competitiveness. He's the greatest coach ... maybe the greatest coach in all of sports. And I have a chance to beat him in one game.
I told that to the players: Not only am I in this for their reasons, but I have some reasons of my own.
You've got the advantage, obviously, because you know how he coaches and he has no idea how you coach.
(Laughs) That's true! It's a good way of looking at it. Although he has a thousand more wins than me.
Is there a game in your NHL career you'd like to replay?
It's funny, there are plenty of games I'd love to replay, that didn't finish the way I had liked -- but at least they finished.
But there was one game before I was in the NHL, when I had a game called at the world junior championships. And it was called because we had a brawl with the other team in the second period of the game.
At the time in international hockey, the rule was that you were kicked out of the game if you fought. They said all 20 guys were fighting. So all 20 guys were kicked out.
And they didn't make that a postage stamp in Canada?
Oh, believe me, they know it in Canada. It was in a town in [what's now] Slovakia called Piestany, and they call it the "Piestany Punch-Up."
It was an international incident. We can laugh about it now.
What was reaction to seeing the New Jersey Devils bring back their Christmas tree jerseys, like the one you wore as a rookie?
I thought the jerseys looked good. I think they must have done something to them because I didn't think they looked good when we used to wear them, but they looked good this year.
With this first-round loss, is it officially the end of an era for the Devils?
I wouldn't say that. They just obviously have hit a little bit of a mental block. If they went out in that [Philadelphia Flyers] series and played their best and lost, it would be one thing. What puzzled most people and observers is that they really didn't engage in the way most people expected them too. I think it's a little bit in their heads right now, but there isn't any need to blow it up.
People say the NHL product is more entertaining than it's ever been. How much of that is due to the lead you and the competition committee took during the lockout to alter the rules?
It was a collective effort, and it was the right time. Sometimes, you have to be out of competition for a long period of time in order to fix things. There were a lot of very committed people who bought into [the changes]. It wasn't like in an offseason where you have to focus your energies on the draft and free agents and taking your mind off your own team to focus on the game itself.
Having the lockout allowed people a chance to concentrate on hockey.
Is there any rule change that you think has made the biggest difference?
The biggest difference was the new standards on hooking and holding and obstruction. It had been tried so many times and it wasn't successful. The fact that the players bought into it and the referees and the managers ... and it actually got done.
The biggest change is that the kids down in the minor levels of hockey are playing this style. We've given the game back to skills and speed.
Speaking of lockouts: Is there any chance the NHLPA gets its house in order by the next CBA negotiation?
I would expect they would.
Let's move over to subject of great importance: The final season of the television series "Lost."
Your Twitter feed is wonderful for a lot of reasons, but we especially enjoyed some of your takes on the show. What's your theory on how it's going to shake out?
Well, I've got a very good theory. I think I've got the winner.
I think Hurley is going to be the new Jacob. I think everyone is going to move over to the "Flash" side and live happily ever after. And Hurley is going to put all the people in their places.
When you see the "Flash Sideways," you see people and they say "I don't really know that person, but I feel like I know them." And I think the new Jacob type -- whether it's Hurley or Desmond -- is going to put everyone in their place.
Are you a "Lost" freak?
Oh, for sure. Do you think the people in the "flash" world will have recollections of the other timelines?
No, I don't think they'll have any recollection of the island. Hurley will be all-knowing, and he'll put the rest together: Jack with Kate ...
... Jack with Kate, huh?
Yeah. He'll put Jack with Kate, Sawyer with ... what's-her-face. The one that blew up.
What major characters won't be alive at the end of the finale?
I think they'll all be alive. Not only will everyone make it through, but even people who died in the first season will be back. Eko will be back. They'll all be back. Like the flight never happened.
Finally: If the Hockey Hall of Fame was like the baseball Hall, and you had to go in wearing a particular uniform, which one would you chose?
The Red Wings.