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A Sticky Situation
MONTREAL | June 4th, 2010
A Sticky Situation
Every coach in Canadiens history has had their own distinctive coaching style. But when it comes to ruling the Habs with an iron fist, no bench boss compared to Scotty Bowman’s reign in the 1970s. In Bowman’s world, nothing was off limits when it came to keeping his players in line, both on and off the ice.

A key member of the Canadiens dynasty that won four straight Stanley Cups from 1976 to 1979, Yvon Lambert has his share of vivid memories of his hardnosed former coach.

“Scotty was always looking for a new way to keep us on our toes and make us react,” recalled Lambert. “We were winning almost every night and enjoying ourselves doing it, and that didn’t always make our coach very happy.”

Even though he never took credit for inventing his philosophy, Bowman had his own trademark: to be hated by his players.

“Over time, it became more and more difficult for Scotty to get us to hate him,” explained Lambert, who scored the famous overtime winner against the Bruins that led the Habs to the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals. “He was always coming up with new ways to rattle us.

“His best move came one year when we were in Vancouver over a long weekend to face the Canucks,” continued the Habs’ former No. 11. “On our second night there, Scotty wanted to make sure we all obeyed his strict curfew.”

The wily Habs coach brewed a scheme that involved leaving a hockey stick with the concierge. It seemed like an innocent gesture, but that was only the beginning. What he asked the concierge to do with it was the devious part.

Bowman had the brilliant idea to have the concierge ask all the players arriving after the 11:00 p.m. curfew to sign the stick. Always quick to bring a smile to the face of an apparent admirer, the players innocently obliged and etched their John Hancock onto Bowman’s stick, unaware of what would await them at practice the next morning.

“Every guy who signed that stick had a little sit down with Scotty the following day,” admitted Lambert. “There were about seven or eight guys who got pinched, but thankfully I wasn’t one of them.”

Had Lambert served as a role model the previous evening? Hardly.
“I didn’t sign the stick,” he laughed, “because I didn’t even come back to the hotel at all that night!”

See also
The old switcheroo
Mikey Scissohands
The Bear Essentials
One of a kind
Joy and pain
Stuck on you
Attention to detail