Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lemaire Tries to Outclass His Professor Star Pupil Threatens Bowman's Cup Streak

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lemaire Tries to Outclass His Professor Star Pupil Threatens Bowman's Cup Streak

Article excerpt

Before these Stanley Cup finals, Michael Keenan was The Protege of William Scott Bowman.

With slicked-back hair, nose pointed skyward and a handful of ice chips to munch on, Keenan even mimics his mentor, who gave him his first break in professional hockey by hiring him to coach Buffalo's Rochester farm team in 1980.

But when they met in the Stanley Cup finals in 1992 - with Bowman in Pittsburgh and Keenan in Chicago - Bowman taught Keenan a lesson. The Penguins smoked the Blackhawks in four games.

And now, with Keenan's Blues on the sidelines, another Bowman protege is about to do what Keenan couldn't do and what no one has done since Harry Sinden in 1970 - beat Bowman in the finals.

New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire is two games from sweeping his mentor. The Devils lead the Detroit Red Wings two games to none in the best-of-seven series, which continues tonight at Brendan Byrne Arena.

But Lemaire isn't looking too far ahead.

"I haven't been in it as long as Scotty, but we haven't won anything yet," he said. "Are we good? We'll be good if we win two more games."

Lemaire knows. He won eight Stanley Cups as a player with the Montreal Canadiens. Lemaire played on Canadien teams that beat Bowman and the Blues in 1968 and 1969. (Boston, coached by Sinden, beat the Blues in the 1970 finals.)

Lemaire won another ring in 1971, and added five with Bowman behind the Montreal bench in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979.

Bowman has seven Stanley Cup rings - the five with Montreal and two with Pittsburgh. He coached the Penguins in 1992 and was an executive when they won under the late Bob Johnson in 1991.

Unlike Bowman lookalike Keenan, Lemaire has very little in common with Bowman other than their days in Montreal and their choice in jewelry. They each wear one of their rings.

Bowman favors the 1991 model because "it just fits well." Lemaire wears the 1976 ring because the Canadiens ended Philadelphia's two-year reign as champions and began a four-year run of their own.

"We had a great challenge before that series," Lemaire said. "They said they would beat us in four games. We beat them in four."

The similarities end there. Bowman, 61, is an English-speaking Canadian. Lemaire, 48, is a French-Canadian. And unlike Bowman, a career coach who never played in an NHL game, Lemaire was a star in the league, a Hall of Fame player.

He's in his second season as New Jersey's coach. His record: 69-43-20. He also coached Montreal for parts of two seasons, replacing Bob Berry with 17 games remaining in the 1983-84 season and resigning after the 1984-85 season.

Lemaire's career coaching record is 117-80-32.

"It's not easy for a great player to become a great coach," said Bowman, whose career record is 913-421-238. "But Jacques had a good eye for the game. . . . He could break down the game pretty well (even) as a youngster. …

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