- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2002

DETROIT An era came to an end last night, one that might never be repeated.

Moments after the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in five games with a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, coach Scotty Bowman announced he was retiring after more than 30 years behind NHL benches.

"It's my last game as coach," Bowman said moments after the game ended. He had just gone over and whispered that message into the ear of general manager Ken Holland.

Bowman, who first stepped behind a bench in 1967 to coach the expansion St.Louis Blues, also coached in Montreal, Buffalo and Pittsburgh and once interviewed to coach the Washington Capitals. He finishes with a record of 1,244-583-314 in the regular season and 223-130 in the playoffs.

There is no one active today who is close to any one of Bowman's achievements or records. The coach was the first to skate around Joe Louis Arena holding the Cup above his head, an honor that usually goes to the team captain. Bowman then handed the Cup to Steve Yzerman, the captain.

The Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the playoff MVP, went to Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who led a rock-solid performance that defused every attempt by Carolina to break through.

Among other things, Bowman, who quickly donned skates to take part in the on-ice celebration, has now virtually completed a clean sweep of the NHL treasure chest. Last night he earned his ninth Stanley Cup ring as a coach (he has a 10th, serving as Pittsburgh's director of player personnel one championship season), breaking the tie that he had forged with Montreal's Toe Blake, Bowman's idol. If there are other pieces of hardware or individual laurels out there that he doesn't own, they're not worth owning.

The championship was the 10th for the Detroit franchise, its third in the last six seasons. But it would hardly qualify as a dynasty, being that significant building blocks were added last summer to complete the makeover. And how long some of those blocks will be around is open to conjecture, being that age in some cases is an overriding concern.

left for him to accomplish in the sport. It had been rumored for several years he would step aside for a less stressful job in the front office, or even retire completely. He opted for the latter.

Goalie Dominik Hasek is 37 but he has a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, a World Championship and a desire to return to his native Czech Republic. He announced his "retirement" a few years back while still with Buffalo but reconsidered after an injury reduced that season to just a few games.

Yzerman is 37 and in need of major knee surgery; Brett Hull at 38 is already a road map of surgical scars; Igor Larionov is 41 and may return to Russia to help rebuild that country's hockey fortunes; Chris Chelios is 40 and may decide enough is enough.

There was no scoring in the first period, a strange almost feeling-out while Detroit appeared to be seeing if Hurricane goalie Arturs Irbe was going to be up to the challenge. He was.

But in a must-win situation, Carolina had to abandon its tight trapping defense and open up and it did, starting the second period at a much faster pace than the first.

The hole got deeper in a hurry. Four minutes into the second, Larionov was against the right boards with the puck and his great instinct told him to blindly pass into the slot. Instinct was correct. Left wing Tomas Holmstrom, who seems to be at home getting mugged in front of opponent nets, was roaring down the slot, reached out and tipped Larionov's pass through Irbe's legs.

Ten minutes later, Brendan Shanahan put the Red Wings up 2-0 on a power play, Jaroslav Svoboda off for roughing. Shanahan, the scoring star who has had trouble scoring during the finals, took a feed from Sergei Fedorov and hammered a shot from the left side over Irbe's left shoulder, off a post and into the net.

The snakebit Hurricanes finally did score, but they needed help. Jeff O'Neill ripped a shot from the left point on a power play and it appeared to go in the net behind Hasek, but play continued with only one Carolina player raising his stick. At the first stoppage of play, officials conducted a very lengthy review of game tape and finally concluded the puck entered the net, hit the center pipe and rocketed back out at 18:50 of the second.

It was only the Hurricanes' second power play goal in 24 chances in the finals, far too few. Worse yet, it was the first time the team from North Carolina had scored a goal of any kind in 166 minutes, 3 seconds, a scoring drought that is not going to win championships anywhere.

Shanahan's second of the night and eighth of the playoffs went into an empty net in the final minute, making the result academic.

Detroit now starts a search for a coach.


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