Winnipeg Jets head coach Rick Bowness should be in the Jack Adams conversation

Photo credit:© James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
By Goose
8 days ago
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On Monday, the NHL dropped a graphic of the early top five voting for the Jack Adams award. The top five coaches, according to 15 NHL.com writers, were Rick Tocchet (Vancouver Canucks), Andrew Brunette (Nashville Predators), Kris Knoblauch (Edmonton Oilers), Peter Laviolette (New York Rangers), and John Tortorella (Philadelphia Flyers).
Rounding out the top seven, we also saw former Jets head coach Paul Maurice and Boston Bruins head coach, yet no Rick Bowness on the list. As a Winnipeg fan, I wanted the Jets’ head coach to win, but I never expected him to win unless the Jets had a 60-win season. I did expect him to be at least in the conversation of the top five head coaches, all things considered about the Jets this season.
There are a few good reasons why Bowness won’t win the Jack Adams. He missed two different stints of the season due to a family reason and a medical procedure. As well, the Jets had both a five-game and a six-game winless streak (Bowness missed three of those games). The most obvious reason is that he is in Winnipeg, and you need to be leaps and bounds better than everyone in the NHL before you get proper recognition.
I talked to John Scott on Jets Nation Radio prior to the season, and the vibe outside the market was that the Jets were done; they weren’t going to be the team to get back to the top of the Western Conference again. Yet, up until the middle of March, the Jets were contending for first in the Central Division. If the Jets had won game 82 against the Vancouver Canucks, they would have been second in the West.
Rick Bowness has taken the Jets’ goals against down over the last two seasons. In 2021-22, the Maurice and Dave Lowry year, the Jets allowed 257 goals against. In 2022-23, the first year of the Bowness era, the Jets allowed 225 goals against, a decrease of 32 goals against. This season, in 81 games, Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit have allowed 185 goals against; the Jets have allowed a total of 196 goals.
The defensive group has been the same nine guys since 2021-22. They have been better on both sides of the puck. The Jets are giving up fewer goals and fewer high-danger chances. Offensively, the Jets’ defense has taken a major step forward this year; the Jets’ defense has scored 188 points in 2022-23. Last season, the Jets’ defense scored 192 points, and in 2021-22 before Bowness, the Jets’ defense only scored 163 points.
Bowness unlocked a bonus 29 points for his defenders. That did mostly come from Josh Morrissey, but finding that greatness in a player is a sign that Bowness is a great coach.
You can also point to the 69-year-old coach connecting with the young players correctly. Look at Logan Stanley and Cole Perfetti; they have had to sit at different points this season. Stanley has started to cement his role as a full-time defender. Perfetti, when he is able to get into the lineup, has played with a fire under his butt.
He picked his captain before the season, and it was a perfect fit in Adam Lowry. A bold pick by many at first; Morrissey seems like the better pick, but throughout the season, you haven’t heard anyone asking, “Is Lowry the right person to lead the Jets?”
He kept the boys in line to beat Seattle rather than getting too far ahead of themselves mentally for Colorado. Bowness has been a rock for this club all season long. No one expected greatness from the Jets, and through the regular season, the Jets have gone through some rough patches but are coming through nearly on top of the West.


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