When the Tampa Bay Lightning visited the Minnesota Wild on Friday night their associate coach, Rick Bowness, made a little bit of history.
When he took his spot behind the Lightning bench it was the 2,165th game that he coached in the NHL (as either an assistant or a head coach), breaking the record that had previously been held by Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman.
Bowness tied Bowman’s mark earlier this week in the Lightning’s 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Bowness talked about the record on Friday before the game against Minnesota.
“It’s just worked out that I have been able to survive this long and this many games and in different roles. I have always said my main motivation in this is to win the Stanley cup. I don’t care what the job description is, assistant coach, head trainer, I don’t care about that. I just want to win a Stanley cup, so the drive of trying to win a Stanley Cup is still there. I have never worried about the job description, I just want to go somewhere where you have a legitimate chance to win, to win that cup. I’ve been blessed. I’ve spent my whole life around the National Hockey League, very few people can say that. I’ve never had to look for another job outside of hockey. I’ve had other opportunities when I was released as a coach, I’ve been offered management assistant general manager jobs, I never wanted to pursue that. It’s the coaching I love, the practices, the Guys, the games. Everything involved with coaching. I was never drawn to management and still not drawn to management. I’ve been very fortunate to play for a little bit, and then I have been able to coach every day of my life and that is what I am very happy with.”
Most of those games over his 35-year coaching career have come as an assistant, but he has been a head coach for 463 games with five different teams in his career, including the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders and Phoenix Coyotes.
When he became the head coach of the Senators during the 1992-93 season he was the very first coach in franchise history. They were his longest stop as an NHL head coach, spending three-and-a-half years behind their bench.
Before his coaching career began Bowness spent parts of six seasons in the NHL as a forward with the Atlanta Flames, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets, playing in 173 games and scoring 18 goals to go with 37 assists.