Bowness pushes back against Jets’ perceived culture issues

Posted: 23/07/2022 in NHL
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New Jets head coach Rick Bowness refuted the notion that there’s some serious unrest within Winnipeg’s dressing room.

“I really believe in this team,” Bowness said during a recent interview with NHL Network. “I know there’s some culture issues that people are making a big deal about, I don’t think it’s nearly, nearly as bad as what’s being perceived about our organization.”

The Jets failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2017 after finishing in sixth place of the Central Division with a record of 39-32-11.

Star forward Mark Scheifele made headlines when he questioned his future with the organization after the Jets’ 2021-22 campaign ended, while veteran center Paul Stastny said the players had to have more respect for each other.

Meanwhile, power forward Pierre-Luc Dubois reportedly told the Jets that he plans to test unrestricted free agency when eligible in 2024.

“When you lose your way like they did last year for whatever reason, I’m not here to criticize, things just get blown out of proportion,” Bowness said.

“From everything the players tell me – Josh Morrissey, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler – it’s a very close-knit group, much more so than is perceived.”

Bowness, 67, stepped down as head coach of the Dallas Stars shortly after the team was eliminated from the playoffs. He said he fielded calls from some rebuilding teams regarding associate or assistant coach roles, but he wasn’t interested.

“You can’t fix the Xs and Os on the ice until the culture itself is straightened out, and it’s tight,” Bowness said. “I feel so much better about the team just talking to the players, that it is a much closer group than is perceived about us, and it is a very good hockey club.”

Shortly after being announced as the new bench boss of the Jets, Bowness vowed to lead them back into the postseason.

A veteran head coach of 639 games, Bowness also spent time behind the bench of the original Jets before they relocated, the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, and then-Phoenix Coyotes.

He helped lead the Stars to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2020.

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