"As long as I'm healthy and there's no change in ownership in Detroit, there'll be no change. I'm perfectly satisfied." - Scotty Bowman, Detroit Free Press, June 24
The Chicago Blackhawks are holding a press conference this afternoon to announce that the coaching legend has left his consultant post with Detroit and has been named a Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations. He won three Stanley Cups as a Red Wings coach from 1993-2002.
So what changed for Scotty Bowman? What made him Commit to the Indian?
Nothing changed, obviously. Bowman has likely been talking with the Blackhawks even when he claimed he wasn't, as TSN's Bob McKenzie opined when the rumors started swirling this summer.* The quote from the Freep above was lip-service; candy tossed to a Detroit media that couldn't imagine a Stanley Cup high being hampered by the departure of a franchise hero; one opting to join his son Stan with a division rival, where he's an assistant GM.
Bowman gave the same platitudes to McKenzie:
"I am happy doing what I am doing," Bowman told TSN. "At this stage of my life, I couldn't see myself doing it (fulltime in another organization). I like it in Detroit. I don't have a contract but it's kind of a lifetime job with the owner there."
Guess this sort of double-talk is just Scotty being Scotty. Or maybe he'll be more candid in his press conference.
None of this matters to the Blackhawks fans, who will welcome one of the greatest talent evaluators and hockey minds alive into their brain trust.
If you didn't think the Chicago hockey revival wasn't already signaled by the arrival of Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet, along with the awarding of the Winter Classic, then having Scotty Bowman peering down from the owner's box (and over Coach Savard's shoulder) is as validating as it gets.
(It also feels like too much, too soon for a franchise that might not even make the playoffs next season.)
The decision to add Bowman is a key move in that it provides McDonough with a strong figure to run the "hockey side" of the business with Tallon as McDonough focuses on the overall operation and brand of the franchise. With GM Dale Tallon having one year left on his contract, it also gives McDonough a solid perspective to evaluate Tallon's performance, and weakens Detroit's front office.
For Detroit Red Wings fans, there's a sense of anger on display over on Abel To Yzerman that's reminiscent of Eric Mangini's departure to the New York Jets: The notion that a championship team just lost a key member of its staff to a division rival, and that he took his institutional knowledge of his former franchise with him. (Let's just hope Mike Babcock doesn't go out and buy a camcorder to complete the Pats/Jets comparison.)
No one's saying that adding Scotty Bowman to the front office puts the Blackhawks on the level of the Red Wings. But adding that level of insider insight will certainly add a bit of intrigue when the two teams meet. It's a great day for Chicago hockey.
(* Reporter Andy Strickland had Bowman-to-the-Blackhawks last month. It was premature, and widely disputed. But it turned out to be spot-on, so kudos. Such a shame that good talent can't be trusted thanks to the damaged, pitiable reputation of others.)