Over the past three seasons, Rick Bowness has been behind the bench for three playoff appearances, one Stanley Cup final, one Eastern Conference championship and another appearance in the conference final. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Tampa Bay Lightning want to keep their associate coach around.
The Lightning announced Tuesday that Bowness has been brought back on a multi-year extension that will keep him in Tampa for at least two more seasons. For Bowness, sticking with the Lightning — who have been close, but not quite there in terms of winning the Stanley Cup — probably gives the bench boss a solid shot at capturing the first title of his career.
“We know we’re close,” Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith.
Bowness has been a part of the Lightning staff since 2013-14 when he came aboard after Jon Cooper’s hiring, and this past season the 61-year-old stood behind the bench for his 2,000th game. Even though he’s getting up there in age, Bowness told Smith he’s “a long way” from retiring from coaching.
Bowness’ coaching career began in his penultimate season in the AHL in 1982-83, when he acted as a player-coach for the Sherbrooke Jets. The following season, Bowness, a winger, spent the season primarily as a player, but retired following the 1983-84 campaign. Upon retiring, he made the jump to coaching full-time.
Over the past 31 seasons, Bowness has coached in both the AHL and NHL, and he’s been a coach in the big league in all but one of the past 24 seasons. He was the first coach in Ottawa Senators history and has also spent time as the coach of the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Phoenix Coyotes. He has a career record as 123-289-48-3 as a bench boss, but he has been a part of some good teams as an assistant and associate.