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WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets are close to announcing that Rick Bowness will be the team's next head coach.
A Jets spokesman told The Canadian Press late Friday that while nothing was finalized, Bowness "is the person we're focusing on as our next head coach."
Bowness spent most of the past three NHL seasons with the Dallas Stars.
He led them to the 2020 Stanley Cup final in the playoff bubble in Edmonton where the Stars lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
His Stars bowed out in seven games to the Calgary Flames in the first round of this year's playoffs. The Flames won Game 7 in overtime.
While Bowness was not under contract past this season, the 67-year-old coach said he was stepping away from the Stars to "allow the organization the opportunity to pursue a different direction at the head coaching position.''
The Stars hired Pete DeBoer to replace Bowness last month.
It will be Bowness's second stint in Winnipeg. He started his coaching career with the Jets, culminating in 28 games running the bench to close the 1988–89 season.
Bowness takes over behind the Jets bench for Dave Lowry, who was interim head coach after current Florida coach Paul Maurice stepped down in December following nearly nine years in Winnipeg.
The Jets finished the 2021-22 season sixth in the Central Division and out of the playoffs with a 39-32-11 record.
Bowness has been on an NHL bench for a record 2,562 regular-season games as a head coach or an assistant over nearly four decades.
He was 89-62-25 as head coach in Dallas. Bowness was a second-year assistant when he took over in December 2019 after Jim Montgomery's firing for off-ice issues.
After the Stars made the Stanley Cup final in the pandemic-altered 2019-20 season, his interim tag was removed and Bowness signed a two-year contract.
Scotty Bowman and Pat Quinn, both members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Bowness are the only men to head coach NHL games in five different decades.
Bowness did so with Winnipeg (1989), Boston (1991-92), Ottawa (1992-96), the New York Islanders (1996-98), Phoenix (2004) and Dallas (2019-22). He also was an assistant for Vancouver and Tampa Bay.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2022.
The Canadian Press