Winnipeg Jets closing in on Rick Bowness as head coach

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — The Winnipeg Jets are closing in on Rick Bowness as their head coach.

A Jets spokesman told The Canadian Press on Friday that while nothing was finalized, the 67-year-old Bowness “is the person we’re focusing on as our next head coach.”

Bowness spent most of the past three NHL seasons coaching the Dallas Stars. He led them to the 2020 Stanley Cup final in the playoff bubble in Edmonton, where the Stars lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Stars lost in overtime in Game 7 to Calgary in the first round of the playoff this year.

While Bowness was not under contract past this season, he said he was stepping away from the Stars to “allow the organization the opportunity to pursue a different direction at the head coaching position.″

The Stars hired Pete DeBoer to replace Bowness last month.

Bowness started his coaching career with the Jets, culminating in 28 games running the bench to close the 1988–89 season. The former right wing ended his NHL playing career with Winnipeg in the 1982 playoffs.

Dave Lowry finished last season as Winnipeg’s interim head coach after current Florida coach Paul Maurice stepped down in December.

Bowness has been on an NHL bench for a record 2,562 regular-season games as a head coach or an assistant over nearly four decades. Along with Winnipeg (1989), he has coached Boston (1991-92), Ottawa (1992-96), the New York Islanders (1996-98), Phoenix (2004) and Dallas (2019-22). He also was an assistant for Vancouver and Tampa Bay.