WINNIPEG – Rick Bowness said he had no problems being seen as a second choice for the Winnipeg Jets, knowing that they first lured Barry Trotz, who told them on June 24 that he would not train next season.
“There were a lot of good coaches in my position, and that was the second choice, right?” Bowness said on Monday. “I’m not alone in that. There have been a lot of top players interviewed who are good coaches in this league and they’ve all been behind Barry. I just think, for obvious reasons, that Barry was the first choice and that doesn’t bother me a bit.”
Hailing from Moncton, New Brunswick, Bowness replaces Dave Lowry, who was 26-22-6 in 54 games after Paul Morris resigned on December 17.
This is the second time the 67-year-old has been appointed as Winnipeg’s coach. He became the coach of the Originals on February 7, 1989, after Dan Maloney was fired, and went 8-17 with three fights to end the season.
Most recently, he was 89-62-25 in three seasons as coach of the Dallas Stars, after replacing Jim Montgomery on December 10, 2019. Bowness led Dallas to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, losing six games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. .
This season, the Stars went 46-30-6 and were the first wild card in the Stanley Cup playoffs from the Western Conference. Bowness resigned on May 20 after the Stars lost Game Seven to Calgary Flames in the first round.
Jets general manager Kevin Chifeldaev said Monday that he quickly reached out to Bowness after Trotz said he would not be coach for next season. Bowness said he wouldn’t waste any time worrying about the delay.
“I understand why they would go after Barry, and I would have done the same,” said Bowness. “who is he [Manitoba] The success he achieved after winning the Stanley Cup [in 2018 with the Washington Capitals]I would have done the exact same thing.”
Bowness is 212-351-28 with 48 games in 639 regular season games as coach for the Stars, Phoenix Coyotes, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins and Jets, 26-23 in 49 games after the season.
His tenures as coach, assistant and assistant coach in the NHL amount to 2,787 games behind the bench (2,562 regular season games and 225 playoff games), more than any coach in league history.
NHL.com met Bowness at the Canada Live Center after his press conference as coach and discussed several topics, including his vision for the Jets.
What needs to change, what will change in Winnipeg?
“Culture was an issue last year. From all the players comments, it’s a problem. The X and O don’t work if the culture isn’t activated, if everyone doesn’t buy. So we have to change that. That’s what I’ll be working on over the summer in my conversations with the players, so when We get to the training camp, everyone will know the expectations. The first thing we have to change is some attitude and culture around the team.”
How fast are you doing these things?
“Very good question. Just judging by the initial reaction, I think it helps a lot that the players are so frustrated with the way they finished last season. That’s a big help. They didn’t like the way they played, they didn’t like the way it ended.” season. So, they are all disappointed and this helps me turn things around a bit. I have to have the right mental attitude while going to camp.”
What disappointed or upset you about the way your time in Dallas ended?
“Nothing really. There were some issues that we had to deal with as a team, with some situations and things that weren’t there the year before. But that’s okay, it’s all part of the training in the NHL today. The most important thing is the staff, we got it together. We pushed this team as far as we possibly could, and we were very close to moving forward to play [the Edmonton Oilers] In the second round. We went into game seven in overtime (against Calgary) and had some first-class scoring chances that we didn’t score. So, then we walked away as employees and said we’ve pushed this team as far as possible. I’m not really disappointed in anything about that. Could we have won more matches? definitely. Was it going to change our position? no. We were not a team of 110 points, 115 points. So, we pushed this team as far as possible. We felt good about that as employees.”
What is the most valuable advice you have received from someone on your training journey?
“I would say it’s just, be honest with yourself. I don’t know if I kind of developed that or got educated. When I started training, I knew I wanted to train the way I wanted to train. It’s been a long time, but ( Former Gates coach) Tom Watt made a huge impact on me, the first coach I played for was very detailed and very well prepared for training and everything he did. It was innovative at the time and it was about being ready, being ready, being organized, making Your training is ready. That opened my eyes as a player, but my whole mental approach to training, I’ve always said that, if I’m going to coach, I’ll do it my way and if I get fired, I do it my way, not someone else’s way.”
You have extensive experience in 40 years of training, including as an assistant and partner. How difficult is this transition to being responsible and how valuable is that experience when you move to a higher level?
“I’m not sure I looked at it that way. I always see a job that needs to be done to coach this team regardless of the role. I know there are coaches who will never come back as an assistant. I wanted to train. I love the game, so I wanted to stay in training, So I’ve played less in places. I didn’t care too much about titles. As long as I had the freedom – and I’ve been by every coach I’ve ever worked with – – to do what I could do and do it my way. I was lucky to be able to do it. I didn’t Never with a head coach who said, ‘No, you don’t do that, or you can’t do that from that way.’ It was important to me to work with people who would allow me to do my things, and who could trust me to do it my way and handle it. It helped me a lot. I guess the hard part was, and they would probably never have accepted a job this way anyway, if they wouldn’t let me do it my way.”
You were assigned to train the original aircraft on February 9, 1989, more than 33 years ago. What is so special about that first time as a coach?
“Look how young I was at the time. What I remember about that was when they called me and told me they were bringing me from Moncton (of the American Hockey League) to replace Dan Maloney, I wasn’t keen on it because I knew I wasn’t ready. I knew it in Deep down my first year in Moncton, a year ago…we had 12 freshmen right out of college and had a tough year and then the next year when they called we were first and challenging and I thought we could have won it that year. Team. Therefore, I was disappointed that I could not finish this task, but you do what the organization asks of you.”
How is coach Rick Bowness different from all those years ago?
“More knowledge of the game and coaching. I wasn’t ready for that first job. I’m more confident about training my players today. It was a completely different era now. Even back then, I was more connected. It wasn’t my type at the time. I wasn’t Never that kind of coach. I think my style is better in the last 10 or 12 years than it was back then, just because it was so different from being open and communicating and trying to get close to your players. It wasn’t like that when I played and it wasn’t like that in that. time. When I went to Boston (in 1991-1992) it probably cost me my job because they were old school and tough and I wasn’t. I was very open with the guys, I connect with the guys and when I look at that we won two rounds and went to the conference final and I was unemployed About work, I think my approach to the guys and my communication is what bothered them. And that was a big part of me ending this job. But I’d rather do it my way and lose a job than change the way I do things.”
Image credit: Katie MacLeod / Winnipeg Jets