Scotty Bowman made it clear that the Toronto Maple Leafs rejected him over the summer, not the other way around. But he's not so clear on whether he'd join the team in the future.
In an interview Saturday with Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean, the legendary coach said he discussed a possible senior adviser's job with the team until September, before Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Richard Peddie called off the talks.
"I had good meetings with Toronto up until about three weeks before the season," said Bowman, who added he never discussed financial compensation with the Leafs.
"We never talked about money. Money was not an issue, I don't think, with them, and certainly never was with me."
The Leafs made the unusual announcement in the off-season that they were seeking someone to oversee embattled general manager John Ferguson. Speculation was that Bowman, a paid consultant to the Detroit Red Wings, was the team's first choice.
But the talks never progressed to the point of a formal offer, and Bowman said he wished to return to the Red Wings, making it appear to some as if he'd walked away from the Leafs.
Bowman told MacLean on Saturday that he wasn't sure why the Leafs decided not to hire him, but admitted that he asked for a degree of control over the team similar to that enjoyed by Bryan Colangelo, the president and GM of the MLSE-owned Toronto Raptors.
"I think they might have been concerned about how much time I was going to be able to spend [on the job]," Bowman said. "But I speak with [Red Wings coach] Mike Babcock daily and [GM] Ken Holland.
"Even though I'm not behind the bench, I'm 24/7 and I really enjoy it."
The current Leafs' brain trust has been a hot topic in Toronto lately as the team entered Saturday night's game in San Jose with just one win in its last eight games and in danger of falling out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Ferguson was rumoured to be close to getting his walking papers in late November, when Peddie said in a published report that he made 'a mistake' in hiring the first-time GM. Toronto, though, briefly turned its fortunes around and no changes were made.
Bowman — winner of a record nine Stanley Cup championships as a head coach with Montreal (1973, '76, '77, '78, and 79), Pittsburgh (1992) and Detroit (1997, 1998, and 2002) — was noncommittal Saturday when asked if he'd still be interested if the Leafs came calling again.
"That's a pretty tough question to answer right now," he said. "It'd be awfully tough to leave Detroit.
"We'll cross that bridge if it ever came to that, though."