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Jets coach Rick Bowness retires after 38 years in NHL

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Jets coach Rick Bowness retires after 38 years in NHL


Winnipeg Jets coach Rick Bowness has retired after spending 38 seasons behind an NHL bench, the team announced Monday.


The 69-year-old Bowness is retiring after having one of the best seasons of his career. He guided the Jets to a 52-win campaign that saw them finish with 110 points before they lost in the Western Conference quarterfinal round to the Colorado Avalanche in five games.


Leading the Jets to one of the NHL's best records led to Bowness being named one of the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award which goes to the coach who is "adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success."

Shortly before announcing his retirement, the Jets posted a video on X with the caption, "Hockey won't be the same without you, Bones."


Initially drafted in the NHL and the WHA, Bowness was a forward who scored 18 goals and 55 points in 173 NHL games with the Atlanta Flames, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and the original Jets.


He was a player-coach with the Jets' AHL affiliate in 1982-83 and became a Jets assistant once the 1983-84 season was finished.


That would send Bowness down a path that led to him spending an NHL record 2,726 games behind a bench either as a head coach or as an assistant. His first NHL job was an assistant for the original Jets franchise for three seasons before he was named head coach for 28 games during the 1988-89 season.


Bowness returned to the NHL during the 1991-92 season when he was the head coach of the Boston Bruins for one year. He led the Bruins to a 36-win season and guided them to the Eastern Conference final where they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins.


The Bruins did not bring Bowness back, but he was next named the first coach of the then-expansion franchise Ottawa Senators in 1992. Bowness coached the Sens for three-plus season and was fired 19 games into the 1995-96 season.


He was then hired as an associate coach for the New York Islanders and remained in that role until he was promoted to head coach as a midyear replacement in the 1996-97 season. The Isles went 16-18-3 in 37 games only to see Bowness get fired the next year after 63 games.


Bowness came back to the league in the 1999-2000 season as a Phoenix Coyotes assistant. He was with the franchise for six years which saw him serve as a caretaker during the 2003-04 season when they fired Bobby Francis.



He would then join the Canucks as an assistant in the 2006-07 season which saw him play an instrumental role in what proved to be one of the franchise's golden periods. Bowness spent seven seasons in Vancouver and was part of the staff that reached the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.


In 2013-14, the Tampa Bay Lightning hired Bowness to serve as an associate head coach for then-first-year coach Jon Cooper. Bowness spent five years with the Lightning before the Dallas Stars hired him as an assistant in the 2018-19 season.


Bowness was later elevated to head coach in December 2019 after the Stars parted ways with Jim Montgomery. Bowness led the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final in the Edmonton bubble where they lost to the Lightning. The Stars would miss the playoffs a year later before returning to the postseason in the 2021-22 season.



What ultimately became his final season in Winnipeg saw Bowness lead the Jets to the sort of success that led to him being named a coach at the NHL All-Star Game for the first time in his career. Earlier this season, Bowness took a temporary leave of absence to be with his wife, Judy, after she had a seizure.


In March, Bowness took another brief leave to have what the Jets said at the time was "a minor medical procedure" which saw him return later that month.


Bowness finishes his career with a 310-408-48-37 record having made five playoff appearances.

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