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Thursday, June 13
Updated: June 13, 10:43 PM ET
Bowman ends career with Cup and record

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Scotty Bowman ended one of the most successful coaching careers in professional sports history by retiring immediately after winning his record ninth Stanley Cup.

"It's my last game as a coach,'' Bowman said on the ice after the Detroit Red Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Thursday night to win their third Cup in six years.

Bowman, 68, won five Cups with Montreal and one with Pittsburgh.

Bowman was handed the Cup by captain Steve Yzerman and skated around with it held high over his head.

Then he went over to owner Mike Ilitch and broke the news to him.

"He whispered in my ear and said, `I got to go, Mike,''' Ilitch said. "I said, `Thanks, Scotty.'''

Bowman had been tied at eight Cups with his mentor, former Montreal coach Toe Blake. Only two NBA coaches, Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers and Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics, have won nine titles, with Jackson winning his ninth Wednesday night. No baseball manager won more than seven World Series.

No other current NHL coach has won more than one Stanley Cup. It would take decades for any coach to match his 1,244 regular-season victories or 223 playoff victories.

Bowman said he was unsure what he would doing after leaving coaching.

"I got a contract with the Red Wings,'' he said. "I haven't worked out what I'll be doing. I won't be doing a lot.''

Bowman said earlier that he wouldn't be coaching following the 2003-04 season, after which the NHL will get a new labor agreement.

"I made up my mind in February that this would be my last year. I'm not an old man, but it's time to go,'' Bowman said. "I never knew before, but I felt this year that this was it. I'm so happy that I was able to go out with a winning team.''

When he was asked if his players knew he was going to retire, he said: "No. I didn't even tell my wife till tonight.

"I wanted to do it again,'' he said of skating around with the Cup. "I enjoy being with the guys.''

Bowman had been the subject of retirement speculation since having knee-replacement surgery and an angioplasty that caused him to miss the early part of the 1998-99 season.

Although the Red Wings' payroll was the biggest in the NHL -- inflated by Ilitch's additions of Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille -- it was Bowman and his old-school methods that glued together a club that many in Detroit felt had lost its way after winning consecutive Cups in 1997-98.

"He turned our organization around,'' Yzerman said. "He kept us going, kept us motivated.''

Said Sergei Fedorov, "We got the job done together.''

As the crowd of 20,000-plus at Joe Louis Arena wailed their approval, Bowman revealed to reporters a decision he said he had made in February.

"I didn't want it to be a distraction. I never told anyone because I didn't think it was what they wanted to hear,'' he said. "I just felt it was time. ... It's just time to enjoy what the other people enjoy.''

He coached during five decades, even as hockey has evolved from a time when players didn't wear helmets to a wide-open game, through the Canadiens, Islanders and Oilers dynasties to today, when teams are so well-coached, well-prepared and systematized that, Bowman said, "It's so hard to score, it's like soccer.''

Bowman persevered, a senior citizen who remained as far ahead of the coaching pack as he was when he was hired by the St. Louis Blues, about the time Carolina coach Paul Maurice, 35, was born.

"I don't care about records,'' Bowman said earlier in the week. "I just hope I live long enough to see somebody break them.''


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Scotty Bowman goes out in style after coaching his last game.
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