After a lengthy search, the Winnipeg Jets have finally found their next head coach.
The team announced on Sunday that it has hired Rick Bowness to take over behind the bench, replacing interim coach Dave Lowry. Lowry took over in the middle of the 2021-22 season following Paul Maurice’s decision to step away from the team.
This will be the seventh time Bowness has been a head coach (either full-time or interim) in the NHL, having previously spent time with the Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes, and most recently the Dallas Stars. He also spent part of the 1988-89 season as head coach of the Jets. In his coaching career he has compiled a 212-351-76 regular season record. The bulk of that coaching resume came with the early expansion era Ottawa Senators.
His most successful tenure came over the past three seasons with the Stars that included an improbable run to the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Final.
Following the Stars’ Game 7 loss to the Calgary Flames in the First Round of this year’s playoffs he stepped away from the team, leaving his coaching future in doubt. In the end, he did not stay out of a job for more than a couple of months.
When the Jets initially began their coaching search former New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz was reportedly high atop their wish list, but Trotz has decided to take a break from coaching this season and forced the Jets to go in another direction. The interview process included candidates such as Rick Tocchet, Jim Montgomery, Jeff Blashill, and Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach Pascal Vincent.
The Jets are an interesting spot right now. They have a very veteran team with some significant flaws and is also coming off of a disappointing season where it failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There will no doubt be changes to the roster as they look to shed Blake Wheeler’s contract while Pierre-Luc Dubois’ name has also surfaced in trade speculation.