During the 90's, Scotty Bowman, Barry Smith and the rest of the Detroit Red Wings were the nemeses of a crumbling Blackhawk organization.
Some 15 years later, it can be argued the Scotty Bowman, himself, is a small part of the Blackhawks' rebirth.
How so? Well, a few years back the Blackhawks hired Bowman's son, Stan, to their front office. A graduate of Notre Dame, Stan Bowman grew up in Buffalo while his dad was with the Sabres.
Today, Stan Bowman is the Blackhawks Director of Hockey Operations, integrally involved in on-ice decisions, especially personnel.
Where does Papa Scotty come in?
While many scouts and NHL personnel types had their doubts about Pat Kane leading up to the 2007 draft, due mostly to his size, Scotty Bowman didn't. Privately, he was telling people that Kane was far and away the prize of the draft and a special player. Chances are pretty good that he told his son that as well. Did that sway the Hawks? Who knows, but the endorsement of one of the greastest hockey minds in history probably didn't hurt.
Last season, Robert Lang was relegated to third line minutes in Detroit by Mike Babcock. On the outs with Babcock, Lang was allowed to leave via free agency to the Blackhawks. It was Scotty Bowman's Red Wings that traded for Lang, however; and Lang was a big contributor on some great Detroit clubs. It is quite plausible that Bowman, Sr.'s opinion was sought out when the Hawks were considering throwing $4 million a year at a player who had worn out his welcome with a reputable coach in Babcock. Lang has since been a solid leader, both on the ice and in the dressing room and is on his way to an outstanding season in Chicago.
Intriguing Blackhawk prospect Igor Makarov, drafted in the high second round in 2006, is playing this season for SKA St. Petersburg in the Russian Super League. His coach there? None other than Barry Smith.
Scotty Bowman was publicly critical of the Blackhawks' defensive zone break-outs at the beginning of the season, an area that the Denis Savard and his staff have since shored up pretty nicely.
Again, there is perhaps no cause and effect relationship here.
But this much is true: the elder Bowman is often seen around the United Center, and the Blackhawks have historically sought out premier "consultants" from around the hockey world.
For years, the great Vladimir Tretiak served as the Hawks goaltending consultant, and is the reason Eddie Belfour has chosen to wear #20 throughout his career.
Stan Bowman, himself, is a sharp hockey mind. Dale Tallon has proven to be a competent GM. The Hawks also employ Rick Dudley as assistant GM.
But as some say, the true measure of intelligence is not how much you know, but how aware you are of how much you don't know, and how willing you are to seek out knowledge.
That said, if the Blackhawk brass is tapping in to the vast experience and insight of one Scotty Bowman, kudos to them. Evidence suggests they just might be.