No one in NHL history has coached more games than Rick Bowness.
Whether he’s been a head coach or an assistant, Bowness has been behind NHL benches for almost 2600 games in the league, dating back to 1984.
So when ”Bones” hands out compliments, it carries more weight than most.
And as his Winnipeg Jets prepare to take on the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night, Bowness was super generous with his praise of Sens’ captain Brady Tkachuk.
“He’s a great captain,” said Bowness. “You talk about guys who lead with enthusiasm, inspiration, lead by example, going out and playing the right way, playing hard, playing physical, knowing when it’s time to step up and do something to get the emotions back in the game, he’s got it all. He’s a great young player.”
The senior Bowness clearly has a soft spot for the Tkachuk family.
“I coached his father (Keith) and I remember Matthew running around the Arizona locker room as a five year old. Brady wasn’t around yet.”
Bowness has rallied nicely after an unusual exit from Dallas last season. Despite a 46-30-6 regular season record, he stepped aside because he felt it was best to “allow the Stars to pursue a different direction at the head coaching position.”
Bowness then pursued a familiar direction this season to Winnipeg, the place where his NHL coaching career began in 1984 – first as an assistant, then as an interim head coach four years later. Back in Manitoba 38 years later, Bowness is having a lot more success this time around. His Jets are 20-10-1, just 3 points behind first place Dallas, the team he just left.
Bowness also has a soft spot for the Senators. Not only was he the first head coach in franchise history over 30 years ago, his son, Ryan Bowness, is in his first year as Ottawa’s assistant general manager. The younger Bowness was hand picked by Pierre Dorion earlier this year, replacing Pierre McGuire, who was thrust upon him a year earlier by former owner Eugene Melnyk.
Ottawa’s play-by-play man Dean Brown, who knows Bowness well, had a little fun with the Bowness family connection in this matchup, noting that Bowness and son Ryan were spotted together Monday, doing a little Christmas shopping at a local mall. Brown jokingly wondered if Bowness had a chance to take his son to see Santa yet.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but Tuesday’s matchup is a big game for both teams. So the compliments and good will toward men will need to pause for a few hours, starting with an 8pm puck drop.
By Steve Warne