Bowman Spurns Offer From Penguins

Posted: May 29, 1993

Scotty Bowman's two-season stint as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins ended abruptly yesterday when the NHL's winningest coach left a contract offer on the bargaining table and said he would talk to other teams.

In response, the Penguins rescinded their offer and said the only way Bowman would return is as the team's player-development director or as a consultant, positions he held before replacing cancer-stricken Penguins coach Bob Johnson in 1991.

"We have to get somebody who wants to coach this team," Penguins owner Howard Baldwin said. "Scotty was clearly looking elsewhere."

Bowman is a six-time Stanley Cup winner with an NHL-record 969 career victories that include regular-season and playoff games. To stay in Pittsburgh, Bowman reportedly wanted his $350,000 salary increased and more of a say in running the team. The Penguins would not disclose their offer.

One of the teams Bowman is believed to be interested in is the Detroit Red Wings, who said previously they would consider Bowman if he were available.

Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch asked coach Bryan Murray on Wednesday to relinquish the team's coaching job and remain as general manager. Ilitch said the team needed "a coach who isn't afraid to lay down the hammer," a description that fits Bowman.

Bowman won his latest Stanley Cup as the Penguins' interim coach during the 1991-92 season, when Johnson died of a brain tumor.

The Penguins waited all last summer before finally naming Bowman as the coach on opening day, and the Penguins went on to finish with the NHL's best record after setting a league mark by winning 17 straight games. They were eliminated in the Patrick Division final by the New York Islanders.

Bowman's successor will be the Penguins' eighth coach since 1983.

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Former New York Rangers coach Roger Neilson and Florida general manager Bob Clarke are denying it, but sources around the league say that Neilson will be the expansion team's first coach.

Neilson was fired on Jan. 4 by the Rangers.

PRO FOOTBALL

The Denver Broncos have changed the status of linebacker Michael Brooks, designating him as an unrestricted free agent instead of a transitional player.

The Broncos said the minimum salary requirement for a transitional player has escalated higher than they are willing to pay Brooks under that arrangement. The minimum salary for transition linebackers jumped from $1.3 million to more than $2 million earlier this year.

As an unrestricted free agent, Brooks will be able to negotiate with any team in the league.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Stanford football coach Bill Walsh has been sent a letter of reprimand by the Pacific Ten Conference for making disparaging remarks about the University of Washington's football program.

During an appearance before a Stanford alumni group last week, Walsh said Washington ran an outlaw football program that relied on athletic ''mercenaries."

TRACK AND FIELD

Sergei Bubka, the world-record holder in the pole vault, will compete outdoors in the United States for the first time today when he competes at the Bruce Jenner Classic in San Jose, Calif.

Bubka, of the Ukraine, has broken the world record 34 times - 18 indoors and 16 outdoors. His outdoor mark is 20 feet, 1 1/4 inches.

LeRoy Walker, the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said he has not decided whether to support a plan to pay cash to medal-winning American athletes.

The pay-for-medals proposal will be voted on by the USOC board of directors June 5 at Salt Lake City. The plan was announced with great fanfare this month, but Walker said it's not a done deal.

PRO BASEBALL

Beginning June 15, minor-league baseball players will be banned from smoking or chewing tobacco at minor-league stadiums for health reasons. Violaters could be fined $300.

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