Story of the Week
In 1967, the NHL expanded from the traditional six teams to 12 teams. The St. Louis Blues was one of those teams, as was the L.A. Kings. I was living in St. Louis at the time. I had never been to a hockey game, nor was I a hockey fan. I was offered tickets to go to a Blues game throughout the season, and I declined.
I finally succumbed and went to a ‘67-’68 playoff game. I was hooked. The very next day, I purchased two season tickets, and owned them until I moved away from St. Louis in 1976.
The Blues’ coach was a very young Scotty Bowman. It was his first stint as head coach in the NHL. Little did I dream at the time that Bowman would become the most successful coach in NHL history.
The fact is that he is the greatest coach/manager ever in any major pro sport, this according to Sports Illustrated. The latter mixed various criteria into the equation, some of which were number of seasons as a pro coach/manager, number of winning seasons, number of victories in regular season, number of victories in post-season, winning %, and number of league championships. The minimum number of seasons for a coach/manager to qualify for consideration was 10. The list of pro coaches/managers under consideration in all major sports was endless.
In an article printed on June 29, 1998, Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated proclaimed Scotty Bowman the best coach/manager ever in a major professional sport.
Scotty Bowman has instant credibility with whatever strategies he incorporates. Why not? Going into this 2001 season, Bowman had compiled 1193 regular season wins and 200 playoff victories as a head coach in the NHL. He has won eight Stanley Cups, including two with his present team, the Detroit Red Wings. He has a good chance to win his ninth Stanley Cup this season.
He is a brilliant hockey strategist. He is a workaholic. He loves the game. And although he is now 68 years old, and has talked about retirement, only health reasons will, in my opinion, ever cause Bowman to leave coaching.
A picture of Scotty Bowman’s 1967-1968 St. Louis Blues graces my office wall. Each time I look at that picture, I laugh at the Sid Salomon family, the first owners of the Blues, for letting Bowman leave the Blues in 1971 because he wanted more front office control, and they didn’t want to relinquish that authority. The Blues have paid the price for their stupidity ever since. Bowman has eight Stanley Cups and counting; the Blues have none.
I'm still waiting for L.A. (that is a joke) or St. Louis to make a serious Stanley Cup move. In their absence, which is frequent, my favorite team in the playoffs is whatever team Scotty Bowman coaches.
Scotty Bowman is already enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Last Week’s Trivia
Who is the only NBA player to be league MVP two straight years while playing for a different team each year? Moses Malone did it with Houston in 1982 and with Philadelphia in 1983.
Trivia Question of the Week
It’s nostalgia time, but only for those of us who lived in L.A. when we had minor league baseball. 1957 was the last year for Pacific Coast League baseball in L.A. What were our two local PCL teams? Where did they play? They were farm clubs of what major league teams? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.