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Bowman Returns to Coaching Tonight

October 23, 1998|HELENE ELLIOTT

Saying he wouldn't know how to fill his evenings if he weren't coaching, Scotty Bowman will stand behind the bench of the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings tonight for the first time since he underwent knee replacement surgery and angioplasty last summer.

"It's something I've always done. I guess I'm fearful of the alternative, of what I'd do if I didn't coach," said Bowman, whose eight Cup coaching triumphs tie him with Toe Blake for the NHL record. "I started coaching in 1956 and in 42 years, there's probably been only three years I didn't coach.

"I never felt it was as much of a chore as a challenge."

Bowman, 65, is the career leader with 1,057 regular-season victories, 194 playoff victories and 1,818 games coached. His .658 winning percentage is also a record. His eight Cup coaching victories rank him behind only Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics for the most titles in a major professional league.

Bowman's return was considered uncertain after his younger brother, Jack, died of heart problems last summer. However, Bowman, who conducted the Red Wings' practice from the bench Thursday and didn't go on the ice, said he feels fine after losing 20 pounds and increasing his physical activity.

The Red Wings, 3-1-0 under associate coaches Dave Lewis and Barry Smith, are vying for a third consecutive Cup championship. "I already left one team once [Montreal] after we won four in a row, but I was young in my career," he said. "Certainly, the motivation of trying to win a third Cup in a row is huge."

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