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Lightning add experience behind the bench with Bowness

by Turner Batten / Tampa Bay Lightning

When Tampa Bay Lightning vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman decided not to retain former assistant coach Dan Lacroix last month, Yzerman stated he wanted to couple the youth of head coach Jon Cooper with a guy who has seen plenty of experience at the NHL level.

On Monday, the Lightning found that veteran presence, naming Rick Bowness as the team’s Associate Head Coach.

“With 24 years of NHL coaching experience as both a head coach and an assistant,” Yzerman stated. “We are confident Rick will be a valuable addition. We look forward to having him behind the bench next season.”

Bowness broke into the NHL as an assistant for the Winnipeg Jets in 1984 where he later became the head coach in 1989.

The Moncton, New Brunswick native has also manned the benches for the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators before serving as an associate and assistant coach for the New York Islanders and Phoenix Coyotes respectively.

In the 2006-07 season Bowness was an assistant on the Vancouver Canucks’ coaching staff before being promoted to the associate head coaching position. The Canucks saw great success while Bowness was behind the bench, making the playoffs in all but one year. In 2011 the team made the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Boston Bruins in Game 7.

That is why Bowness decided to come to Tampa Bay.

“I want one badly,” Bowness said of a Stanley Cup. “I believe in Steve Yzerman and he is surrounding himself with a lot of really good hockey people.”

Two of those “really good hockey people” that Bowness mentions is head coach Jon Cooper and pro scout Tom Kurvers.

Lightning assistant coach Rick Bowness brings over 24 years of NHL coaching experience to Tampa Bay.

“Cooper’s track record speaks for itself and I worked with Tom Kurvers in Phoenix,” Bowness said. “I am a firm believer in his ability to judge talent.”

The foundation of the organization is what sparked the veteran coach’s interest in the Lightning, stating “they are going to win a Stanley Cup there and I am dying to be a part of it.”

Cooper, who is gearing up for his first full season behind a NHL bench, lacks the experience Bowness has, but that doesn’t mean a thing to the new Lightning associate coach.

“We are all rookies and we all have to learn how to coach in this league,” Bowness, who has been behind the Vancouver bench since the 2006-07 season, said.

“Jon has all the ingredients that tell me he is going to be a successful coach in this league for a long time.”

Cooper is not the only part of the youth movement in Tampa Bay and Bowness has noticed that.

“There is a very solid group of young guys in the Tampa Bay system,” Bowness stated. “One of the things I enjoy about coaching is working with young players and helping them grow on and off the ice.”

Bowness says that every day he brings passion and enthusiasm to the rink because he “loves every day in the NHL.”

That is why Yzerman wanted him. Bowness’ experience and passion coupled with the Tampa Bay foundation will hopefully bring the associate head coach his goal, a Stanley Cup.

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