WINNIPEG — Rick Bowness doesn’t take offense at being the Jets’ second pick.
The Winnipeg team’s new head coach attended his first press conference on Monday, just over a week after the Jets’ first target, Barry Defiance, turned down the team’s offer to spend more time with her family.
“If I had been in her place, I would have tried to hire Trotsky. It’s that simple,” laughed Bowness, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff at his side.
“Trotzy was the perfect man for this position. I understand. With his credentials, I would have done the same as ‘Chevy’. I got a nice text message from Trotty a few days ago. It didn’t work and that’s okay. Do I feel bad for being her second choice? Absolutely not. I would have done the same, he would have been my first choice. »
Cheveldayoff added that he quickly reached out to Bowness.
“Barry has made the decision to take care of his family, which is admirable. As soon as it became obvious, I reached out to Rick immediately to see if there was a synergy, an opportunity. »
Bowness resigned from his post with the Dallas Stars after last season. He went 89-62-25 in 176 games over nearly three seasons. In the playoffs, the Stars went 18-16 under him.
The 67-year-old Moncton man, who signed a two-year contract on Sunday, is the eighth head coach in franchise history and the third since the team moved from Atlanta in 2011.
Bowness said ex-Jet Scott Arniel, who served as an assistant coach at Washington that season, has been hired as an associate coach.
Bowness, a former right winger, ended his 173-game NHL career in 1982 with the Jets. He also began his coaching career with the club in 1988/89, coaching the team for the final 28 games of the season. He’s 211-351-76 as a head coach in nearly 12 seasons.
He will have a lot to do with the Jets, who underperformed by missing the playoffs for the seventh time this season since the team returned to Winnipeg.
Several players have expressed their frustration at last season, which saw Paul Maurice tender his retirement in December. Dave Lowry finished the season and the team finished with a 39-32-11 record.
“He missed something,” Bowness said of the Jets’ final season. I won’t say more because I wasn’t there. But they have deviated from their path. »
“But if you look at their training, the way they’ve been competitive for some time, we just need to all work together, including the players, to get the club back on track. »