Rick Bowness is returning to his roots.

The Winnipeg Jets announced the hiring of Bowness as their head coach on Sunday after several days of speculation.

The 67-year-old Bowness, who becomes the team's eighth head coach in franchise history and third since the club’s relocation to Winnipeg, began his coaching career with the Jets, culminating in 28 games running the bench to close the 1988–89 season.

The former right wing ended his NHL playing career with Winnipeg in the 1982 playoffs.

"I'm tremendously excited for the opportunity presented to me by Kevin Cheveldayoff, Mark Chipman and the ownership group to serve as the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets," Bowness said in a statement. "It's amazing that 40 years after the original Jets gave me my first taste of coaching, I get to return to Manitoba to lead this talented group of players in front of such a passionate fan base."

Bowness spent most of the past three NHL seasons coaching Dallas, leading led the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup final in the playoff bubble in Edmonton, where the Stars lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Stars lost in overtime in Game 7 to Calgary in the first round of the playoff this year.

While Bowness, a Moncton, N.B., native, was not under contract past this season, he said he was stepping away from the Stars to "allow the organization the opportunity to pursue a different direction at the head coaching position." The Stars hired Pete DeBoer to replace Bowness last month.

Dave Lowry finished last season as Winnipeg's interim head coach after current Florida coach Paul Maurice stepped down in December.

"We're very excited to hire Rick Bowness as the third head coach of Jets 2.0," said Cheveldayoff, Winnipeg's general manager. "Rick brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, both in the NHL coaching ranks and as a player and coach in the city of Winnipeg. Rick is a fantastic hockey mind and an even better person and we're confident he will lead this team to new heights."

Bowness led the Stars to an 89-62-25 record in 176 regular season games. Under Bowness’ leadership, Dallas also went 18-16 in the playoffs.

Bowness was drafted in the second round (26th overall) in the 1975 NHL Draft by the Atlanta Flames. His NHL career spanned 173 games for Atlanta, the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets where he recorded 55 points (18G, 37A) and 191 penalty minutes. Bowness played 45 games for the Jets in the 1980-81 season and he played and coached with the organization for nine seasons until 1988-89.

He spent the 1982-83 season as player-coach for the Jets' AHL affiliate in Sherbrooke and retired following the season to become an assistant coach for Winnipeg. He worked three seasons as an assistant with the Jets before serving as head coach and general manager of their AHL affiliate, the Moncton Hawks, beginning in 1987-88.

Bowness took over as Winnipeg’s head coach on Feb. 9, 1989, and led them to an 8-17-3 record.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2022.

The Canadian Press