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Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning add veteran NHL coach Bowness to staff

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Published:   |   Updated: June 4, 2013 at 06:55 AM

Rick Bowness was a late addition to the Lightning's list of coaching candidates but quickly jumped to the front of the line.

And once Bowness spoke to general manager Steve Yzerman, the Lightning jumped to the top of his list, as well.

“I've always been a Steve Yzerman fan, both as a player and a person,'' said Bowness, who was named the Lightning's associate coach on Monday.

“I was impressed that when he quit playing he went right to work (in management), and I've always been a fan of the Detroit Red Wings organization and how they do things and how they build a winner. So I know Steve is going to build a winner (in Tampa) and I want to be a part of that.''

Bowness, 58, spent the past seven seasons with Vancouver under Alain Vigeneault, but he became available when he was let go last month when the Canucks were swept out of the playoffs by San Jose for their second consecutive first-round playoff exit.

Before that, he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach in Phoenix and has served as head coach of the New York Islanders (1996-98), Ottawa Senators (1992-96) and Boston Bruins (1991-92), and was an interim head coach in Winnipeg (1988-89).

Once Jon Cooper spoke to Bowness, the last of a handful of candidates the team interviewed for the position, the Lightning head coach knew adding the 24 years of coaching experience that Bowness brings would be a perfect fit.

“I'm not a rookie coach, but I'm a rookie to the environment, and you can't put a price tag on experience,'' Cooper said. “And what I like about him is he has experience in all different ways of coaching — he's been a head coach, a forward coach and a (defensive) coach. And the last part is he has only been with two teams the past 14 years and he has seen a lot of winning, so he's the type of guy that when he leaves a job everybody lines up to hire him. We are fortunate to be able to get him.''

Cooper said the initial plan is for Bowness to run the defense, but because he could fit in anywhere on the staff, it could change depending on how Cooper rounds out the rest of his staff.


eerlendsson@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @erlendssonTBO

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