Bowness gets comeback
Will return as Jets coach next season
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
Rick Bowness will be back behind the bench to lead the Winnipeg Jets.
Bowness was given the vote of confidence by Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff during his season-ending press conference on Sunday, confirming the veteran coach will return for a second season. So, too, will his staff, which includes associate coach Scott Arniel and assistants Brad Lauer and Marty Johnston.
“When we talked last year, there’s lots of things that went into those types of discussions. The job that Rick did for us in coming in and taking on this task and giving him a shot at trying to win a Stanley Cup, I thought they a great job,” Cheveldayoff said. “Not just Rick, but the coaching staff. In Rick’s situation, he’s more than comfortable going into the season with his contract the way that it is.”
Bowness was already under contract for next season, signing a two-year deal plus an option for a third. But his future with the club seemed uncertain after he called out his team following a 4-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the first round that officially eliminated the Jets from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Bowness said he was disgusted with the team’s play and called out the Jets’ top players for not matching the intensity of their opponent.
“It’s the same crap we saw in February,” Bowness went on add. “As soon as we were challenging for first place and teams were coming after us, we had no pushback. This series, we had no pushback. Their better players were so much better than ours, it wasn’t even close.”
Bowness admitted to the media on Saturday that his choice of words could have been better but stood by his overall message. Naturally, those comments were put to the players as they met the media on Saturday for what is commonly referred to in hockey circles as “garbage bag day.” Bowness, who was brought in before the start of the year to provide some much-needed accountability, discipline and structure, had clearly struck a raw nerve.
“I didn’t agree with how he handled himself after that game,” said former captain Blake Wheeler, who was the first at the podium.
“I thought that Rick had an opportunity to address us as a team… now we have to answer that question, right? I think he could have been honest with us. We could have had those discussions behind closed doors.”
Several other key players including alternate captains Josh Morrissey, Adam Lowry and Mark Scheifele, along with Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Pierre-Luc Dubois, took a similar stance.
“Personally, didn’t necessarily agree with what he was saying,” Morrissey said.
“If that’s really how he felt … he came out of the locker room after the game and said a little something to us and then he said what he said to the media,” added Connor. “Maybe a little more transparency before that.”
Bowness, it should be noted, was not scheduled to speak with the media on Saturday. But plans changed once it became clear more fuel was being added to the fire.
“I will never accept that kind of an effort in a game like that. You can criticize me for the choice of words, that’s fine. But never will I accept a game like that,” Bowness said. “The hidden message, more or less, is that I never want them to be satisfied. ‘OK, we made the playoffs. We got to Round 1.’ I never want them to be satisfied with that. And there’s a third message that I won’t certainly be sharing with you guys.”
Cheveldayoff played off any potential of lingering issues the spat might have created, and when suggested his players seemed to rebel against a third coach — with Paul Maurice and his replacement Dave Lowry also in riffs with players last year — in two years, he chose to see it a different way.
“Those comments need to be looked at in context as to, I think Bones was specifically referencing that game which wasn’t up to his standard and he has to let those guys know. Each and every time, one thing I know for sure is that when Bones said something to me, like ‘I’m going to meet with so-and-so, or I’m going to show so-and-so this,’ it happened. It happened fast, too,” Cheveldayoff said. “There’s not a time frame where Bones kind of well, ‘maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t.’ I think the players appreciated that. Did they not like those words and those comments? Yes. And we talked about that in the exit meetings. Bones was in the exit meetings as well. So those things have been talked about. He’s a passionate guy and they’re passionate players.”
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.
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.