Fans of the ‘original’ Winnipeg Jets will be familiar with the name Rick Bowness. The now 65-year-old Moncton, New Brunswick product that spent two separate stints with the first iteration of the professional team known as Winnipeg’s Jets, is currently nine weeks into an experimental hub city ‘bubble’ stay that has seen his Dallas Stars advance to the Stanley Cup Final, where he currently faces a three-games-to-two deficit.
Bowness, a former big-league forward with the former Atlanta Flames, the St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings and the Jets, finished his NHL career with Winnipeg in 1982. Following some time as a player-coach with the AHL’s Sherbrooke Jets, Bowness got the call to take over at the helm of the Jets. That began a 31-year coaching career that saw the former Salt Lake Golden Eagle on the bench of eight separate NHL clubs.
Four years with the Jets led to a one-year gig in Boston. He then moved from Ottawa to the New York Islanders, to the Phoenix Coyotes, to the Vancouver Canucks, to the Tampa Bay Lightning, before finally stepping in as an interim head coach in Dallas following the firing of Jim Montgomery mid-season due to ‘conduct detrimental to core club values’. Although last serving as the bench boss in 2003-04 with the Coyotes, head coaching is nothing new for the east coast journeyman.
Serving as the only link to the Winnipeg Jets from the Dallas Stars roster, Bowness is in need of some magic, going up against former Jets 2.0 defenceman Zach Bogosian and the high-powered Tampa Bay Lightning.
Coming into the postseason as a top-four Western Conference team, the Stars first beat out the Calgary Flames in six games, before taking care of Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche in seven. Dallas surprised the heavily-favoured Vegas Golden Knights in the third round, before jumping out to a 1-0 series lead over the Eastern Conference’s Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final.
Since pulling ahead 1-0, the Bowness’ Stars dropped three-straight contests, including a devastating Game 4 overtime loss while shorthanded as captain Jamie Benn sat in the penalty box. In the NHL’s first-ever occurrence of back-to-back nights featuring Stanley Cup Final games that needed overtime, Dallas pulled off a gutsy win, as veteran Corey Perry solved the 2-2 deadlock, scoring at 9:23 of the second overtime period, bringing the Stars to within one game of the Bolts.
Now, Bowness and Co. will look to knot the series up at threes on Monday evening from Edmonton. However, at this point in history, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final. But as 2020 has already shown, this year has been anything but predictable.
Game 6 between the Stars and Lighting is set to go at 7:00 PM central on Monday evening. The game can be viewed live on Sportsnet.