Future uncertain, changes needed

Coach says lack of consistency was failure of collective effort

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Dave Lowry says there will no tossing and turning, no bouncing off the walls as he waits to learn his fate. Instead, the interim coach of the Winnipeg Jets is taking a patient approach to his immediate hockey future.

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Dave Lowry says there will no tossing and turning, no bouncing off the walls as he waits to learn his fate. Instead, the interim coach of the Winnipeg Jets is taking a patient approach to his immediate hockey future.

“We just finished playing. My whole thing is I’m not going to worry about what I’m doing,” Lowry said on Sunday afternoon following his club’s final game of the year, a 4-3 comeback victory over Seattle to finish 39-32-11 and eight points behind Nashville for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Lowry, who joined the organization as an assistant prior to the 2020-21 season, took over for Paul Maurice in mid-December after the popular, longtime bench boss abruptly resigned. Lowry inherited a team that was 13-10-5, guiding them to a 26-22-6 record in 54 games. Whether he gets a 55th game with Winnipeg starting next fall has yet-to-be determined.

Jets captain Blake Wheeler skates into Seattle Kraken goaltender Chris Driedger Sunday afternoon. (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)

“That’s life. This is the business we’re in,” said Lowry, who will meet this week with general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff as part of a thorough post-mortem.

“It’s no different than players on expiring contracts, right? They’re going to be looking for a position, they’re going to be looking for jobs next year if it doesn’t work out. The biggest thing is I’m not going to guess the future. I’m going to reflect on what we did. We’re going to sit down with our staff and we’re going to look at areas that we’re going to have to get better at. We’re going to look at things that worked, things that didn’t work. Come back and be better for it.”

The Jets could never string together a long enough streak of success under Lowry to make a serious run, save for the final four games of the year when the stakes were incredibly low.

“The biggest thing that we lacked is consistency. That is a collective effort. You give them a plan, you go out some nights and execute it extremely well. Some nights we didn’t play to our potential. That’s not only on the coaching part of it, that’s on our group collectively,” Lowry said.

“We didn’t get to the playoffs. And that was the goal at the start of the year. I look at how some individuals played. I look at some of the personal improvements in their games. We had a bunch of guys that had career years. From a team standpoint we didn’t get to where we needed to go, but I thought a lot of guys showed signs.”

Lowry admitted there would have to be changes to his approach should he be given another shot.

“If I stay here and I stood up here today and said that we’re not going to make any changes, well, what we were doing didn’t work,” he said. “We’re going to have to make some adjustments. Do we need to completely overhaul everything? I don’t think so. But yeah, you’re going to have to make some changes.”

Regardless of where his next coaching opportunity comes, Lowry believes some valuable lessons have been learned.

“I believe the adversity that we faced throughout the year is going to make myself a better coach,” he said.

Winnipeg was in the unusual position of having a coach whose son is on the team. Forward Adam Lowry admitted Sunday it was difficult at first.

“I think going back to it, it’s kind of a bit of a blindside, to be honest. Drove to the rink in the morning to find out Paul’s no longer the coach and Dave is coming in as interim, so I think handled it as well as we could have,” said the 29-year-old centre, who will get to continue his season by joining Team Canada at the upcoming World Championship in Finland.

“After it happened I think we (him and his dad) did a pretty good job trying to maintain a professional relationship. I didn’t really talk to him outside of the rink and things like that. So it’s a unique situation,” he said. “I think it’s tougher for the other guys as opposed to necessarily me, but it’s one of those things that really goes to a situation none of us envisioned or hoped for at the start of the year. You know, we love Paul. Paul’s kind of all we knew going into it and caught off guard, I’d say, a little bit by him leaving. I think as the season wore on, you know, we got better at navigating it and things like that.”

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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