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'He knows what it takes to win': 5 things to know about Rick Bowness

The Stars interim coach has more than three decades of experience behind an NHL bench

by Jeff Odom @jeffodom / DallasStars.com

Following the dismissal of coach Jim Montgomery on Tuesday, Stars general manager Jim Nill tapped veteran assistant Rick Bowness to lead the team as its interim coach for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

Bowness, 64, joined the Stars' coaching staff in June 2018 and is no stranger to being behind the NHL bench. Here are five things you might not know about him as he prepares to lead the team:

 

1. Bowness has been behind the bench for more games than any coach in NHL history

This isn't Bowness' first rodeo.

Prior to joining the Stars, Bowness served in various coaching capacities with the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning, whom he helped guide to the playoffs four times in five seasons, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2015. He also served as a head coach for parts of nine seasons with Winnipeg (1988-89), Boston (1991-92), Ottawa (1992-96), New York Islanders (1996-98) and Phoenix (2003-04).

Entering Tuesday's game against the Devils, Bowness owns a 123-289-48-3 record over his head coaching career and has been behind the bench for more than 2,000 games -- the most of any coach in NHL history.

Video: Rick Bowness on being named interim coach of Stars

 

2. He's a former second-round NHL draft pick

Prior to joining the coaching ranks at age 29 with Winnipeg in 1984, Bowness spent nine seasons as a professional hockey player, mostly at the CHL and AHL levels.

A second-round pick (26th overall) by the Atlanta Flames in 1975, Bowness appeared in 173 NHL games with Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

In addition to Bowness, the 1975 NHL draft also produced a few other notable names around the league today, including Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, who was selected after Bowness by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the 42nd overall pick.

 

3. He is a highly-respected leader

Bowness is a well-regarded figure by players and personnel alike across the league.

Stars goaltender Ben Bishop, who played under Bowness while the two were with the Lightning, described him as "genuine" and lauded him for his positive and honest style in all situations, whether a practice or playoff series, in an interview with DallasStars.com's Mike Heika last season.

"Genuine is a great word to describe him and his coaching," Bishop told DallasStars.com. "When he tells you something, he means it, because he's trying to help you.

"He's always talking to everyone, he always has a smile on his face. I really do think that makes a difference," Bishop added. "He knows what it takes to win, so even when he has a positive mindset, he doesn't mind telling you what has to be fixed. I like that.

"He has so much passion, yet he's also talking to you as a person and encouraging you do more or do better."

 

4. He has helped build the Stars' defense and successful penalty kill

Since coming aboard, Bowness has been responsible for managing the Stars' successful defense corps and successful penalty kill, helping develop the team's blueline talent like Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg and Esa Lindell.

Under Bowness, the Stars' penalty kill ranked fifth in the league last season at 82.8 percent, just behind the Lightning, Coyotes, Blue Jackets and Devils. The Stars currently sit at No. 8 on the PK this season at 84.6 percent.

In his new role as interim coach, Bowness said Tuesday that he will shift to oversee the Stars' forwards while assistant John Stevens will handle the defense and new assistant Derek Laxdal -- promoted to Dallas following a successful tenure as head coach of the AHL's Texas Stars -- will take over the power play.

Though a seasoned NHL veteran, Bowness told DallasStars.com that he has adjusted his style over time to stay fresh and better fit the younger players in the league today.

"So many things about our game are changing, how you coach, how you teach, how the players see things, but the fundamentals of the game never change, and so you have to be strong in your fundamentals," Bowness said in February. "I know how the game has been played in every decade from the '70s on, so that gives you a pretty good base of fundamentals."

Video: Jim Nill addresses Stars' dismissal of Jim Montgomery

 

5. He becomes the 24th coach in franchise history

With his promotion to interim coach, Bowness becomes the 24th head coach in franchise history and the ninth since the team relocated to Dallas in 1993.

Bowness has taken the interim role of teams in the past, most recently with Phoenix where he served 20 games to finish out the 2003-04 campaign. His last full season as an NHL coach came in 1997-98 with the Islanders.

It's not the first time Dallas has turned to an interim leader either. Assistant Rick Wilson assumed coaching duties for 32 games in 2002 following the dismissal of Ken Hitchcock.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Jeff Odom is the manager of DallasStars.com and writes about the Stars/NHL. Follow him on Twitter @jeffodom.

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