TAMPA BAY – Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness will be behind the bench in his 2,000th career NHL game on Saturday when the Bolts host the Los Angeles Kings at Amalie Arena at 5 p.m. Bowness has 26 years of coaching experience in the NHL, serving on coaching staffs for seven teams during his career.
Bowness, 60, has been on the Tampa Bay coaching staff since the beginning of the 2013-14 season and is responsible for the team’s defensive unit. Under his guidance, the Lightning went from 26th in the NHL for team goals-against average (3.06) in 2012-13 to 11th last season (2.55). The Bolts currently rank 11th in that category in the League this season at 2.53.
The Moncton, New Brunswick native began his NHL coaching career with the Winnipeg Jets during the 1983-84 season, serving as an assistant coach on Barry Long’s staff. Bowness made his head coaching debut with the Jets on February 9, 1989 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Bowness has been the head coach for the Jets (1988-99), Boston Bruins (1991-92), Ottawa Senators (1992-96), New York Islanders (1996-98) and Phoenix Coyotes (2003-04). He was the Senators’ first coach in the franchise’s history. During his final season with the Coyotes franchise, Bowness coached alongside hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
Bowness served as an associate coach with the Vancouver Canucks for seven seasons prior to joining the Lightning. The Canucks made the playoffs in all but one season with Bowness on Vancouver’s coaching staff. He helped guide the team to back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy’s, given to the team with the best regular season record in the NHL, during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. The Canucks also reached the Stanley Cup Finals during the 2010-11 season, losing to the Bruins in Game 7.