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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Scotty Bowman

(Born on September 18, 1933) -- By just about any definition you’d like to use, Scotty Bowman is the best coach in hockey history. From a Buffalo standpoint, it’s too bad that he didn’t do his best work here.

Bowman was a minor league player when he suffered a fractured skull from a slash by Jean-Guy Talbot, a future Buffalo Sabre. He moved into coaching shortly after that, and won a Memorial Cup in 1958.

Bowman worked up the ladder and eventually made the NHL with the St. Louis Blues in 1967. He took over as head coach in midseason, and helped the Blues reach the Cup finals that year. It was on to Montreal in 1971, where he was the coach of one of the great dynasties in hockey history. Bowman won four straight Cups from 1976 to 1979.

Then it was on to Buffalo as general manager and coach. He took over a team that was in transition, and despite several big player moves couldn’t get the situation straightened out. The Sabres fired him in 1986.

Then it was on to the Penguins and Red Wings, where he won four more Cups to bring his coaching total to a record nine. He retired on top in 2002, skating around the ice with the Cup over his head. Since then, Bowman has stayed in Western New York and consults with the Chicago Blackhawks.

--- Budd Bailey

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