Want Scotty Bowman's autograph?

Midway through the second intermission of tonight's Carolina-Tampa Bay game, I recognized a famous face at the St. Pete Times Forum. It was none other than hockey coaching legend Scotty Bowman.

And, from what I understand, the nine-time Stanley Cup winner, including five with the Montreal Canadiens, has become something of a fixture there.

In seconds, I was making my way over to the press box, where Bowman was perched in the top row, with a game program and a blue Sharpie in hand.

He acknowledged my presence and request for an autograph, saying he'd sign after finishing a telephone call. And yet when the call ended, he walked away from his seat. He returned with two minutes remaining in the break, but feigned indifference at my two additional requests.

Now, it's neither the first, not will it be the last, time that some hockey player or coach has played this game. In fact, I almost expected it. Bowman was downright rude to hounds, as well as hotel security guard who let us within 100 yards of the team bus, when he served as coach of the Detroit Red Wings.

Maybe, next time, I'll enlist the help of some people who sit around us. I certainly can bring enough index cards and Sharpies for our section. And I certainly can tell everyone, with this blog as the medium, that Bowman can easily be approached, and is certainly within earshot, from the top row of Section 314 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Maybe, next time, when there's a group of 20 or so, it'll be harder for Bowman,a Hall of Famer, to feign ignorance or indifference. Then again, maybe the ignorance just comes too easily. And, to think, all I wanted was a single autograph.

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