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Scotty Bowman: A Life in Hockey

by Douglas Hunter

As the NHL’s reigning game tactician, Scotty Bowman has a legendary reputation. He is the leader in coaching victories and has navigated eight teams (in three different cities) to Stanley Cup wins – which ties him with one of his mentors, Toe Blake, of Montreal Canadiens fame. Biographer Douglas Hunter’s Scotty Bowman: A Life in Hockey is an admirable attempt to capture the essence of a man who is both an old school coach and a hockey trailblazer.

Hunter shows that, contrary to popular belief, Bowman’s playing days were not tragically cut short by an injury. In fact, Bowman recognized his own limits as a player, and moved behind the bench. In a profession that’s littered with former war horses, Hunter reminds us that Bowman is one of very few coaches to achieve major success in the NHL ranks without the benefit of a playing career.

One of the more interesting notions that Hunter puts forth is that Bowman’s unfailing on-ice acumen is equalled by his cunning opportunism amid the power struggles of NHL club teams. Indeed, Hunter demonstrates that, among his peers, only Bowman has been able to adapt to the intricacies of the big money era while remaining impervious to the rich, often spoiled, players under his command.

Hunter’s enjoyable tale is tainted only slightly by some flip-flopping of names, and small factual errors (i.e., Calgary, not Montreal, won the Stanley Cup in 1989; and David, not Bud, Poile was the GM of the Washington Capitals in the 1980s).
Also, the density of information that Hunter provides (Bowman crossed paths with virtually everybody in professional hockey over the years) may dissuade the uninitiated from tackling a tome that reads like a whirlwind history at times.


Reviewer: Joe Zingrone

Publisher: Viking/Penguin Books Canada


Price: $32

Page Count: 372 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-670-87990-8

Released: Oct.

Issue Date: 1998-11

Categories: Sports, Health & Self-help