Bowman praises Ilitch for expanding Wings budget

Detroit News
Scotty Bowman

Former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman praised owner Mike Ilitch on Monday for expanding the team's budget when the team was attempting to win its first Stanley Cup since 1955.

In an interview on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto, Bowman said Ilitch overruled his wife Marian in 1994 when they were attempting to acquire Maple Leafs free agent defenseman Bob Rouse, a key player on the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup championship teams.

"Our budget was $19 million, we were at $18.5 and the contract was for a million dollars," Bowman said. "So, I called Marian and said, 'Marian can we go $500,000 over the budget?' She said, 'No, no. We're going to stick pretty close to this budget because we're starting to spend a lot of money.'

"So I called (GM) Jimmy D (Devellano) and he said I'd better call Mike. So, I called Mike and said, 'Mike, we got a chance to get this player but we're $500,000 short.' He said, 'Who is he?' I told him and then he asked, 'How good is he?' I said, 'Well, he's going to be a pretty useful player, especially in the playoffs.'

"He said, 'You think he's going to help us? Okay, I'll take care of Marian.' I didn't want to get into trouble so he said, 'No, no, no. I'll handle it.' We did get him signed and when we signed him, I called Mike and he said, 'Well, Marian is on board now. I had to convince her again.' That's the way it worked in Detroit."

Rouse was plus 10 with three assists and 71 penalty minutes in 42 playoff games during the back-to-back championship seasons in 1997 and 1998.

Ilitch died Friday at age 87. Public visitation has been scheduled for Wednesday from noon-8 p.m. at the Fox Theatre Grand Lobby.