Ex-Detroit Red Wings share ‘stark naked’ Scotty Bowman stories at roast

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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His former players laid bare just how strange it could be to have Scotty Bowman as their coach, for a good cause. 

Bowman, who won three of his 14 Stanley Cups as coach of the Detroit Red Wings from 1993-2002, was the target of the second annual Jamie Daniels Foundation celebrity roast. Wednesday’s show, held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, benefited the foundation, which focuses on substance-use prevention and education, and on combating the stigma that can be attached to addiction disorders. The fundraiser includes an auction, which is open for bids until noon Thursday. For more information, visit JamieDanielsFoundation.org.

Actor J.K Simmons and golfer Jack Nicklaus were among those who delivered messages urging support to end the stigma surrounding substance use disorder. 

In 2018, Ken and Lisa Daniels-Goldman established the foundation, named after their son, who died in December 2016 from an overdose at the age of 23 after ingesting a synthetic opioid. Ken Daniels is the play-by-play announcer for the Wings. 

[ Why Ken Daniels OK being ‘guy whose son passed away’ ]

Here are highlights from the evening.

The Perfect Human swears

Nicklas Lidstrom, four-time Stanley Cup champion, seven-time Norris Trophy winner and perennially polite, used a word that had to be bleeped in his pre-taped spot. “Scotty, you were a terrific coach, a great leader for our team. We had a lot of success together. But we also had a lot of fun having you as a coach. I remember one time, the play was going down in one end, and Barry Smith was standing next to you and you’re looking up the other side, asking Barry, ‘Barry, who the (expletive) is in my seats.’ This was during a game, which was a lot of fun on the bench.”

Lidstrom went on: “Another time, you were catching Tomas Holmstrom and Anders Ericsson having ice cream on the road the night before games all the time. Towards the end, you were asking them on every road trip, ‘Homer, how was the ice cream in this hotel?’.”

2019 flashback: Mickey Redmond’s roast was fun but earnest effort for Ken Daniels’ foundation

Stark naked Scotty 

Enforcer Stu Crimson, who played for the Wings from 1994-97, shared a story from shortly after he was traded to Detroit. He was spending long hours at Joe Louis Arena trying to impress Bowman. “I’ve got my head buried, I’m on a stationary bike and I’ve really got a solid lather going. All of a sudden I look up, and standing inches from the front of the bike is Scotty Bowman. I look up, he’s got shaving cream on, flip flops on, just came from the sauna. So he’d scrape his face and he’d talk to me. ‘Stuie, we’ve got to get our forecheck up and to the left.’ [Grimson mimicked Bowman shaving]. ’No question about it, the forecheck has to go up and to the left.’ This was a perfectly natural conversation to have with your head coach with one exception. The man is standing in front of me, stark naked.”

‘You can get the beer’

Michigan native and actor Jeff Daniels had one memorable meeting. “The first time I met Scotty Bowman was the only time I’ve met Scotty Bowman. I don’t think he’ll remember. I know I’ll never forget it. It was in Anaheim, 2001-2002. I think it was a playoff game. Joe Kocur, who is a friend of mine, was Scotty’s video coach at that time. I went to the game, Joey said come down to the locker room afterwards, so I went down.

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“Scotty is just looking at a television set, a video playback from the game, and Joey is standing there and Joey said, ‘Scotty, do you mind if I get a couple cases of beers for the guys? We have a travel day tomorrow so we’ll just hang around the hotel lounge. Would that be alright with you?’ And Scotty looked away from the video and he looked at Joey and then he was about to answer and he looked at me. And he did one of these [Daniels mimicked Bowman pulling back his head and giving him side-eye]. He said, ‘Who’s that?’ Joey said, ‘Jeff Daniels, he’s a friend of mine. Actor.’ [Daniels mimicked Scotty giving him a strange look again]. Scotty said, ‘Yeah, you can get the beer.’ Then he went back to watching his video.

“Like I said, I know I’ll never forget it.” 

‘A weird cat 

Former NHL forward and longtime Wings color analysist Mickey Redmond kept his story short. “I’ve known Scotty since 1964 when I was a stick boy. One day in Detroit, he came down the hall with that head up in the air, walking right by everybody like they weren’t there. An intern said, ‘Boy, that Scotty Bowman, he’s a weird cat. And I said really? He’s much better than he used to be. But for sure, that’s what made Scotty so great. When he was on a mission, boy, there was nothing to stop him.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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