Rick Bowness still wants to be a head coach
Rick Bowness, the Lightning's new associate coach, said he is all-in as a member of Tampa Bay's staff and he can't wait to work with head coach Jon Cooper. But that doesn't mean Bowness has given up on one day again being a head coach in the NHL.
"Absolutely, that's never gone away," he said.
Still, being a head coach does not supersede what Bowness said is his ultimate goal.
"I want to win the Stanley Cup," he said. "That's my goal. I don't care what my job description says under my name. If it's assistant skate sharpener, I don't care. I want to win a Stanley Cup."
Bowness said the Lightning offers him the best chance to do that.
"Every scout I spoke to said there's some good, young prospects here," Bowness said. "Every scout I spoke to said ... it's a good time to get in there."
Bowness, 58, will guide the Lightning's defense and the penalty kill, the same duties he had in seven seasons with the Canucks before he was fired in a housecleaning that included head coach Alain Vignault after Vancouver was swept by the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs.
Bowness said several teams called to ask the Canucks permission to speak to him about coaching vacancies. But after several productive meetings with Cooper, with whom Bowness said he felt "personal chemistry," the choice was easy.
"Stevie was a big part of it," Bowness said of general manager Steve Yzerman, "but there's a strong nucleus here."
Bowness has spent the past 13 seasons as an assistant or associate coach except for a 20-game gig at the end of the 2003-04 season when he took over as head coach of the Coyotes. He also has been bench boss with the old Jets, Bruins (whom he led to the 1991-92 East final), Senators and Islanders.
He was a mid-season replacement with Winnipeg, New York and Phoenix.
"This is my best chance to win the Stanley Cup, in the role I'm in now," Bowness said of his job with the Lightning. "If I were to get a head coaching chance because of that, fine. What I don't want to do is what I've done three times in my career and mop up. Okay, they're going to fire the head coach, you come in and you mop up and the season is over and it just kills you."
That said, "If I had a chance to be a head coach again with a team that had a chance to win the Stanley Cup, absolutely," Bowness added. "We all want to do that. But for now, this is my role. I'm going to do the best job I can in the job that I have."