‘I want to have a chance to win’: New Winnipeg Jets head coach Rick Bowness has eye on 2022-23 playoffs

The Winnipeg Jets re-introduced new head coach Rick Bowness to fans today after the team officially named the former Winnipeg player and coach to once again lead the team over the weekend.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and Bowness held a press conference Monday morning at which Bowness fielded questions about his decision.

He said he wasn’t seriously considering coaching again as we headed into the postseason, turning down three assistant coaching offers from teams unable to win.

“I didn’t want to go back to the coach for the sake of the coach. I didn’t need a job – I didn’t need a job. I want to have a chance to win,” he said.

“I wanted to work with a good team that has a chance and this team has a chance.”

CLOCK | Rick Bowness signs with the Winnipeg Jets:

Rick Bowness, new head coach of the Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets’ new head coach says he’s confident he can bring the team back to the NHL playoffs. Rick Bowness says the Jets are a good hockey team that got lost last year. Bowness says when he left his job as Dallas coach at the end of the season, he considered retiring.

On Sunday, the NHL team announced Bowness as its new head coach, succeeding Dave Lowry, who was named 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.

Bowness, 67, comes to Winnipeg after spending most of the last three NHL seasons with the Dallas Stars, where he had a record 89-62-25 in 176 regular-season games and took the team to the 2020 Finals of the Stanley Cup.

That points to Bowness’ ability as a coach, Cheveldayoff said.

“You don’t take a team to the Stanley Cup [final] just by luck,” said the GM.

Cheveldayoff, left, presents the team’s new leader with a ‘Bowness’ Jets jersey during Monday’s news conference. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

However, Cheveldayoff addressed the fact that Bowness was not his first choice for the job. Barrydios, a Winnipeg native and former New York Islanders head coach, He recently turned down a coaching offer from the Jets.

But Bowness said he has no hard feelings about being second.

“Listen while I’m with you [Cheveldayoff’s] Chair, I’m after Trotsy too,” Bowness said. “I would have done the same.”

Cheveldayoff said Bowness was his immediate second choice because of his league experience, easy-going and engaging personality and because he knows he will hold the team to account.

“Rick’s a guy who’s going to come in here… not ‘my way or the highway.’ [approach]but it’s a powerful approach to get this team back on track,” said Cheveldayoff.

“Rick is the guy I think is up to the challenge.”

He also confirmed that Scott Arniel – whom Bowness coached in Winnipeg and Boston – will join the Jets as an assistant coach.

Arniel played for the Jets in the 1980s and later for the Manitoba Moose before returning as that team’s coach. Over the past few decades, he has made several appearances as a head coach and assistant coach in the NHL.

Team got lost last year: Bowness

Bowness’ active career has included stints with Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

He played and coached for the Jets organization for nine seasons in the 1980s. That included a season as player-coach for AHL affiliate Jets of Sherbrooke, Que. in 1982-83 before retiring and taking an assistant coaching position at Winnipeg the following season.

He also briefly served as the Jets’ head coach in 1989.

A smiling man in a suit is surrounded by reporters holding microphones.
Bowness speaks to the media after Monday’s press conference. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Bowness now said he’s back and committed to making Winnipeg a playoff team again after the Jets finished with a 39-32-11 record and failed to make the playoffs last season.

Part of the work will include tough conversations, communicating expectations with players and encouraging a positive attitude in the dressing room, he said.

Bowness said he was looking forward to going to work.

“This is a really good hockey club and for whatever reason it went astray last year and I and the coaching staff when we get it all together will be working very closely with the owners, management and everyone involved, work together organization,” he said.

“We’re going to bring this team back to the playoffs.”

CLOCK | Jets introduce new coach Rick Bowness to Winnipeg:

The Winnipeg Jets have a new head coach

The Winnipeg Jets re-introduced new head coach Rick Bowness to fans today after the team officially named the former Winnipeg player and coach to once again lead the team over the weekend.

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