Thursday, June 13
Updated: June 17, 7:46 PM ET
Bowman's last win was the toughest
By Brian Engblom
Special to ESPN.com
ESPN's Brian Engblom on Scotty Bowman's retirement, which the Red Wings coach announced after he captured his record-setting ninth Stanley Cup:
Scotty Bowman's records speak for themselves. First of all, the fact that he was able to coach in the NHL for over 30 years is unbelievable. And he knows better than anyone else, that at a certain point, it's time to move on.
I've always said that coaching wasn't his job; it's who he is. He eats, sleeps and breathes it. The numbers are always going around in his head; his recollection, his memory and things that he could draw on in crucial situations was enormous. The fact that he goes out with 10 Stanley Cups -- more than anybody else -- is fitting. He has a brilliant, tactical mind.
Surpassing Toe Blake for the most Cups with his ninth as a head coach is more difficult to do in this day and age. When Scotty first came into the league with St. Louis, there were 12 teams. Blake won his when there were only six. Now, when you have free agency and players moving around from one team to the next, it's more difficult than ever. Scotty's always been the first one to say that he's been fortunate to have good goalies and good players.
But it's also easy to lose with good teams, lord knows we've seen a lot of good teams screw it up over the years. It's a lot harder to coach a talented team, a lot harder. In fact, it happened to the Red Wings back in 1994, when they were the favorites and got upset in the first round by San Jose.
They were able to do it this season. I've never been an underdog fan -- except when I've been on underdog teams -- because when you're the underdog there's no pressure. But when you're the favorite team -- and this is a heavily favored team -- it's way harder than people think. And they pulled it off. To go wire to wire like that, especially when they lost the first two games of the playoffs to Vancouver, it's never smooth. And that's why Scotty coaches the way he does -- when things are going to well, he'll screw it up, just so the team will get used to things getting screwed up.
Does it pay off?
It has -- nine times.
Former NHL defenseman Brian Engblom, who was on three of Scotty Bowman's four Stanley Cup-winning teams in Montreal, is a hockey analyst for ESPN.