Rick Bowness stepping away from Jets for ‘minor medical procedure’

Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Rick Bowness will not be behind the bench for the team’s next game, the organization announced Tuesday.

In a news release, the team said Bowness is missing the game due to a “minor medical procedure,” and is back in Winnipeg for treatment.

The team said Bowness will rejoin the Jets once he is feeling better.

Scott Arniel will serve as interim head coach until Bowness returns.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, Arniel said he got a call two nights ago that something was wrong with Bowness, with the head coach spending most of the next day in hospital.

“They know what it is. He’s going to go home, get looked at. We will see how it goes. He might even be back for the end of trip,” said Arniel.

“It’s serious, but it wasn’t something that was going to be extended long term.”

He added he is happy that Bowness will be okay, and is hoping the transition to being interim head coach in the meantime is smooth.

Jets captain Adam Lowry said the team is thankful it’s only a minor procedure.

“It’s tough to lose the leader on the bench and in the room and everything, but we’ve got a great supporting staff with the coaches and the leadership group in the room, so we’re hopefully going to get off to a great start tonight, and hopefully put Rick’s mind at ease as he recovers,” said Lowry.

Mark Scheifele – Winnipeg’s leader in points – said this is an experience the team has previously dealt with, when Bowness missed 13 games earlier in the season to take care of his wife.

“We know what to expect. We know what Arnie’s like. He did a fantastic job then. It also just comes from everyone. Everyone’s got to step up just like when a guy goes down, we need the extra players to step up. So, you know, we just need everyone to step up in his absence and just keep this thing going,” said Scheifele.

As for the game at hand Tuesday night, the road trip continues for the Jets as they make a stop at Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers.

The Rangers have been one of the league’s best this season, and players know it will be a true battle.

“Up and down the lineup, they got a lot of skill. They’ve got guys that can do it all. You know, they’re strong up the middle. They’re a solid team and obviously, some great goaltending. We got to be ready for a tough test here and be ready right from the get go,” Scheifele said.

“Sometimes we stray away from that tight checking, strong fore checking, really good gap game. This is a great challenge to go out there and use that blueprint. That’s where we’ve really found success this year five-on-five, not really giving up chances. I think when we get ourselves in trouble, we get away from that, we create offense for the other team. So, we’re really looking forward to the challenge,” said Lowry.

Dylan Samberg will be back in the lineup and Logan Stanley will be a healthy scratch. Connor Hellebuyck will get the start for Winnipeg. Puck drop is at 6 p.m. CT.

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