Winnipeg Jets announce Rick Bowness as new head coach

The Winnipeg Jets have announced that Rick Bowness will be the team’s new head coach.

The NHL franchise made the announcement in a tweet on Sunday afternoon. Bowness and Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will speak to reporters Monday at the Canada Life Center in Winnipeg.

Bowness, 67, spent most of the last three NHL seasons with the Dallas Stars.

He becomes the eighth head coach in Jets franchise history, and the third since the club moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011.

“We are very excited to hire Rick Bowness as the third head coach of the Jets 2.0,” Cheveldayoff stated in a news release Sunday.

“Rick brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, both through the NHL coaching ranks as a player and coach in the city of Winnipeg. Rick has a fantastic hockey mind and an even better person, and we are confident he will lead this team.” to new heights.”

Bowness replaces Dave Lowry, who was interim head coach after Paul Maurice resigned in December after nearly nine years as the Jets’ head coach. Maurice is now the head coach of the Florida Panthers.

The Jets finished the 2021-22 season sixth in the Central Division and missed the playoffs with a record of 39-32-11.

In the months after Maurice’s departure, speculation abounded as to who would replace him on the Jets’ bench.

In June, some of that speculation focused on Stanley Cup-winning coach Barry Trotz, who had recently been fired by the New York Islanders. A social media campaign urged Trotz — who is originally from Dauphin, Man. — to return to his home province.

But Trotz turned down the offer, telling he will not seek a coaching job in the league for the 2022-23 season.

Reports began to surface last weekend that the Jets were close to naming Bowness as his next head coach.

Bowness has been on an NHL bench for a record 2,562 regular-season games as a head or assistant coach for nearly four decades.

He led the Dallas Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final in the playoff bubble in Edmonton, where the Stars lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bowness, standing, with the Dallas Stars during a regular-season game in April 2022. The 67-year-old began his coaching career with the Jets, culminating in 28 games off the bench to close out the 1988-89 season. (LM Otero/The Associated Press)

Their stars retired in seven games against the Calgary Flames in the first round of this year’s playoffs. The Flames won Game 7 in overtime.

While Bowness was not under contract beyond this season, the coach said he was stepping away from the Stars to “allow the organization the opportunity to go in a different direction in the head coaching position.”

The Stars hired Pete DeBoer to replace Bowness last month.

He began his coaching career in Winnipeg

A native of Moncton, NB, Bowness began his coaching career with the original Jets team in the 1980s.

Following stints as player-coach and assistant coach in Winnipeg, as well as coaching AHL affiliates in Sherbrooke, Que., and Moncton, he took over as the Jets’ head coach in February 1989, culminating in 28 games ( 8-17-3) occupying the bench to close the 1988-89 season.

“I am tremendously excited about the opportunity presented to me by Kevin Cheveldayoff, Mark Chipman and the ownership group to serve as the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets,” Bowness said in Sunday’s news release.

“It is amazing that forty years after the original Jets gave me my first coaching experience, I am able to return to Manitoba to lead this talented group of players in front of such a passionate fan base.”

Before coaching, Bowness played on various NHL teams, playing 173 games for Atlanta, the Detroit Red Wings, the St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg.

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