The quote about Scotty Bowman: "You hated him 364 days a year. And on the 365th, you picked up your Stanley Cup rings."
When I was watching the 2002 Cup celebration (and wondering whether the angry mob in downtown Royal Oak would get to my former apartment), and the news broke about Bowman announcing his retirement, my first thought was good for him. My second and more enduring thought was "What a prick, taking away this moment from his players."
The next day, the papers played up Bowman's retirement, and every single player on that roster was asked about Bowman. Here, at the greatest moment of their professional lives, the attention was taken away from them and thrust onto their coach, who felt he just couldn't keep his cakehole shut for one day.
As much of a genius as Bowman is, those of us on the outside always kinda knew he looked after exactly one person: himself. That's why those rumors about him going to Toronto last year were a bit nerve-wracking: because as much as Bowman and the Red Wings kept denying there was anything to them, you knew that if Bowman wanted to jump, he would, and without a second of doubt. His "I didn't dump you, you dumped me" speil in January just made me even more irritated with him
Now, with Bowman going to the Blackhawks to be with his son Stan, he closes the book on a 15-year career with the Wings. And I can't quite put into words how I feel about this. The fact he's going to work with his son is something enviable, and Bowman has certainly earned the right to write his own ticket. Ken Holland went out of his way to sing Bowman's praise. There was no "we wish him well on his future endeavors" presser out of 600 Civic Center Dr.
And yet...there's always going to be that moment of pause. He was, without question, part of the inner circle of the Wings. What does he take with him, to a team within our division (yes, I know that divisional thing doesn't really matter much anymore, but still)?
It's interesting to observe that, for almost any other team, Bowman leaving would have the columnists in a panic about "what do we do now?" But for this team, it still leaves Holland, Jim Nill, Steve Yzerman, and Hakan Andersson: as solid a nucleus as you'll find in the NHL.
There were, on a couple of nights during the playoffs, wide shots of the press-box level at Joe Louis with the three of them: Holland, Bowman, and Yzerman, looking like the Detroit Politburo: all in grey suits, with no expression on their faces. We'll wait to see who sits in the wide shot now.