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The Winnipeg Jets should consider a younger head coach as their new bench boss

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Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Goose
By Goose
1 month ago
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The future is now, old man! I loved having Grandpa Rick Bowness as the bench boss over the last two seasons. He’s one of the oldest coaches behind the NHL bench. Although the Jets didn’t see playoff success with Bowness, they did succeed in becoming a great group of guys, and he helped eliminate the toxic culture that was starting to plague the Jets.
The Jets have conducted a few interviews already for the next bench boss, including Craig Berube, Dean Evason, and they are waiting for the Hershey Bears to finish up their playoffs in the AHL to interview Todd Nelson, according to Elliotte Friedman.
Those three names above, along with Scott Arniel, could be great coaches for the Jets, but this team is starting to get younger quickly. The Jets had seven players who were 25 and younger playing with the team on a regular basis last season. With the presumed departures of Nikolaj Ehlers, Brenden Dillon, and Tyler Toffoli this summer, the team is going to get even younger, especially if Brad Lambert and Elias Salomonsson crack the lineup in the fall.
The next generation of hockey players is going to be different from any other generation. They are going to need a younger coach to work with them.  As great as it would be to get an older coach who is a proven winner I feel like you need to focus on those younger players to set them up for success in the long run.
There was a lot of debate on whether the Washington Capitals should even make the postseason with how many overtime losses they had, but their 42-year-old coach, Spencer Carbery, took a group of both elder veteran and young players to the postseason. He has only been a head coach for one season in the NHL, but we have already seen early success with this young coach.
If Kevin Cheveldayoff wants to go way off the board with a potential hire, he should look across the pond and consider Cam Abbott. He was the head coach of Rogle BK in the SHL midway through the 2017-2018 season and was relieved of his duties on December 12th, 2023. He took Rogle, in his first year, from being an 11th-place regular-season team all the way to a finals loss in 2020-21. He would fall in the semifinals in 2021-22 and a quarterfinals loss in 2022-23.
He has helped NHL prospects and players develop into NHLers, including Moritz Seider for the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver’s Nils Hoglander, and 2022 first-round pick Marco Kasper and Adam Edstrom of the New York Rangers. If he can get big names going, imagine what he could do with Cole Perfetti, Brad Lambert, and Elias Salomonsson.
Although he did not win a championship in the SHL, he could take a team like the Jets to the final dance with a younger Jets team.
If you’ve followed Jets Nation on TikTok for a while, you know that deep down, I’m an Edmonton Oilers guy, and I’ve been a big fan of Jay Woodcroft since he was an assistant under Todd McLellan in Edmonton. Woodcroft, 47, went 79-41-13 as the Oilers bench boss. The Oilers had the worst start in franchise history with a 3-9-1 record to start the 2023-24 season. I personally think the Oilers had a bad start to the season due to their four-week pre-training camp that the players held.
I didn’t always love how he was using younger Oilers at times, but he saw success in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors. Under his guidance from 2018-19 until his call-up to Edmonton in February of 2022, the Condors had a 105–71–21 record during the regular season and won the Pacific Division playoff championship during the 2020–21 season. Bakersfield also captured the Pacific Division regular-season title in 2019.
I am a little wary of how he would handle the guys who are under 25, but Woodcroft has my vote of confidence. He worked well with the Oilers vets, and if he brings in the right assistant coaches, they could work well with the younger players. He would just need to use them correctly.
Maybe a former Atlanta Thrasher is the key to success. Former head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets Brad Larsen, 46, might be the man. He was one of the assistant head coaches of the Blue Jackets from 2014-2021. In 2021, he was named head coach of the team. He missed the playoffs both years as head coach, but let’s remember that the Blue Jackets put all the chips in in 2020 for a playoff run and only made the second round.
The teams he coached were awful. He had five players over two years hit the 50-point mark. All the goaltenders who played five or more games had a goals above average of 3.00 or more. He wasn’t the problem in Columbus; the teams were poorly built by the general manager. This would be a wild hire for the Jets, but Larsen should get another kick at the head coaching role.
Being an assistant coach, you learn how to deal with players in a positive way. He had two years to learn what does and what does not work as a head coach. Columbus had young players there without the talent on a regular basis; this would be a fun hire that could take the Jets to the next level.

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