By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Standing on the outstretched red carpet, as fans banged on the boards to the side, the legendary Scotty Bowman looked toward his son, whom he named after the prize they cherish, Stanley.
Like father, like son, because neither Scotty nor Stan broke from their even-keeled form in the wake of the Blackhawks’ championship celebration on Monday night. This is understandable for Scotty, as it’s his 14th hoist of the Cup. And Stan shares in his father’s makeup.
“He’s pretty calm, doesn’t have as much emotion as some people would,” Scotty said of his son. “But he’s been through a lot.”
Scotty Bowman spoke as a proud father, seeing Stan once again celebrate his own success in the game of hockey.
As the Blackhawks’ general manager since July 2009, Stan Bowman inherited a Stanley Cup core — Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, etc. — and turned it into a championship team.
This 2014-’15 season was incredibly trying for Bowman, who went all-in on winning a title. He helped maintain the Blackhawks’ roster amid off-ice distractions and found the pieces needed to break Chicago from its inconsistencies from much of the regular season.
When Patrick Kane suffered his broken clavicle in February, Bowman acquired Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins to add forward depth. Vermette scored two game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Blackhawks have now won three titles under Bowman’s leadership.
“It’s a complete organizational effort, and it’s not easy,” Bowman said. “The margin of victory and defeat is so slim. We’ve won a lot of close games. That’s when you rely on your main guys to get it done.”
In 2005, the NHL implemented a salary cap with the intent of creating parity throughout its game. The Blackhawks have found a way to beat that system.
Chicago is led by its championship core, but Bowman and his staff do the rest. The Blackhawks face constant turnover at the bottom end of their roster in order to keep the hefty contracts of their top players. This has forced Bowman to hit home runs in the draft and sign quality free agents.
This season, Brandon Saad became a fixture on the Blackhawks’ top line and made Bowman’s NHL colleagues wonder how he fell to the second round. Niklas Hjalmarsson has established himself as one of hockey’s best defensemen. Rookie Teuvo Teravainen showed glimpses of his incredibly bright future. Rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk looks like a sensational steal of an undrafted free agent.
The list of Bowman hits goes on and on.
“We’ve gone through a couple years where the transition from our team that ended the year to the start of the year almost was 50 percent (of the roster) gone,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think Stan has done a great job as far as rebuilding, retooling on the go this year, and at the deadline made some acquisitions to give us some experience as well.”
Following this summer of celebrating, the Blackhawks will see rapid roster changes. Patrick Sharp appears to be a potential trade target, as the 33-year-old carries a $5.9 million contract. Defenseman Johnny Oduya could go to free up more cap space. More moves are sure to come.
Fortunately for the Blackhawks, their pipeline of homegrown talent is as strong as ever. Former first-round pick Stephen Johns is the next rising star for Chicago.
Difficult decisions loom for Bowman, but none of that mattered on Monday night in the midst of his third Cup celebration as the Blackhawks’ general manager.
“Some people wait a lifetime for it,” Bowman said. “We’ve been very fortunate to do it three times. It makes you want to do it more and more. It’s an incredible feeling.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.