In today's 'player-centred' sports world of multi-million dollar contacts and free agency, it's refreshing to pay tribute to greatness behind the hockey bench. Scotty Bowman is the most successful coach the National Hockey League (NHL) has ever seen, and Sports Illustrated magazine dubbed him "the greatest coach in professional sport."
When, as a coach, he won his ninth Stanley Cup in June 2002, Bowman beat Toe Blake's all-time record of eight Cups with the Canadiens, and tied Red Auerbach of the National Basketball Association's Boston Celtics for the most championships captured by a coach in the four major pro sports of baseball, football, basketball or hockey.
After 30 seasons in the NHL, Bowman holds the all-time NHL coaching records for regular season victories (1,244) as well as playoff wins (223) for an astonishing combined career win total of 1,467 NHL games. Bowman has coached 2,141 regular season games - another record. With the short shelf life of even winning coaches these days, it is likely that Bowman's records will remain. In the ever-expanding NHL, he is the last of an era.
Born William Scott Bowman in Montreal during the Great Depression, Bowman was the son of Scottish immigrants in a family with two brothers and one sister. After a career-shortening injury, Bowman found his place behind the bench where he really could work his magic.
Bowman entered the coaching ranks in St. Louis during the 1967-68 season when the league expanded from six to 12 teams. He led the Blues to the Stanley Cup Finals in each of the club's first three seasons and won two division titles.
In 1971, Bowman moved on to coach his hometown Montreal Canadiens, where had worked and coached in the club's minor league system. Bowman achieved remarkable success in leading the fabled Canadiens to five Stanley Cup Championships (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979) along with six divisional titles in eight years. His 1976-77 Montreal squad still holds the NHL record for fewest losses (8) in a single season of 70 or more games played.