Scotty Bowman: Rebirth of a Rivalry?

David StearnsAnalyst IAugust 1, 2008

Scotty Bowman accepted a position as Senior Adviser to Hockey Operations with the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday. This comes some time after the rumors swirled about a possibility that he would join the Toronto Maple Leafs' front office.

Bowman, who is 74 years old, has been a head coach with the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, and Buffalo Sabres. In 2002, he retired from the head coaching position after leading the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup championship.

Recently, the 'Hawks acquired Cristobal Huet and Brian Campbell through free agency, and they are looking to complete the full circle of talent needed to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The last time Chicago made the playoffs before then was in 1996-1997.

The connection between Bowman and the Blackhawks is no mystery. His son Stan is an Assistant General Manager in Hockey Operations. Chicago was definitely the way to go for Scotty Bowman.

With the background out of the way, the question becomes: Is this the rebirth of the famed rivalry between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks?

Some would argue that it never went away throughout the history between these two franchises.

The Red Wings and Hawks will play their 701st game against one another in this year's installment of the Winter Classic. The absence of Bowman on the bench is obviously the difference in this instance, but his being in the front office of the club should be enough of an emotional symbol for Red Wings fans to feel a rival pull.

I'm sure that the television coverage of the Winter Classic in Chicago will pan to plenty of shots of Bowman, who will more than likely be in attendance. The spotlight will be in his direction as much as it is, I'm sure, on the two main stars of the show, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

I could be wrong, and the appreciation level of all Red Wings fans could supersede his decision to become a part of the Chicago organization. The fans in Detroit recognize him as a figure of success and energy that brought championships to the famed "HockeyTown" and helped bring that moniker literally onto the ice.

I guess that only time will tell whether the impact of Bowman siding with the enemy will pan out. If things were the way they were before the lockout in the early '90s, and Bowman decided to go with Toronto—then a divisional foe—I think the impact would be significantly greater on the fan.

The Leafs and Wings rivalry is probably deeper than the Hawks and Wings rivalry. The bitterness can be tasted at times on both ends, but the Leafs and Wings combo was a bit more famed in my opinion.

So let the games begin, and Wings fans, give the rest of the hockey world something to admire: A good, old-fashioned rivalry, even though the impact of Bowman's choice isn't too direct.