‘I take full responsibility’: Winnipeg Jets’ Bowness takes blame for playoff failure

Instead of preparing for what would have been an all-important Game 6, Winnipeg Jets players and staff took to the witness stand to get grilled over the disappearance of the regular season Jets who went missing after entering the playoffs as the league’s hottest team.

“Listen, I take full responsibility for that playoff performance,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “I do. Our team did not play well.”

Bowness has shouldered the blame for their playoff failure that saw them go out in just five games for the second straight year. And it was clear by the emotion in their voices that this one hurts just a little bit more.

“As weird as it sounds there was so many guys that were unprepared to talk today,” said general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. “Because they’re like, we’re not supposed to be talking today, we’re supposed to be practicing today.”

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“This one for me stings the most out of my four years here in our playoff losses,” defenceman Dylan DeMelo said. “Just still trying to comprehend why, why it all happened.

“I mean, if guys aren’t burning fire because of that or not thinking that we all need to get better, then something’s wrong.”

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With six straight losses in playoff elimination games going back to 2018, it’s easy to say the Jets aren’t built for the playoffs, but Bowness said this year is different than the last.

“We had to change the culture,” he said. “This organization, this team, had a bad reputation. We’ve improved that. We’ve fixed that.

“We’ve made huge strides. Is there more to go? Yes there is.”

“I’d like to think this is hopefully the last learning curve we need to go through,” said Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck. “I’m hoping that this series kind of opened our eyes to the last piece of the puzzle to go on a long run.”

Click to play video: 'RAW: Winnipeg Jets Hellebuyck & Lowry Interviews – May 2'

RAW: Winnipeg Jets Hellebuyck & Lowry Interviews – May 2

The Jets allowed at least five goals in every game, but it’s awfully difficult to pin their elimination all on the goalie.

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“You’re probably not going to believe when I say I was playing the best hockey of my career. But truly that’s how I was feeling,” said Hellebuyck. “To not be able to keep four goals off the board, it’s heartbreaking. It really is heartbreaking.

“I don’t know if I even saw half the pucks go in the net.”

“For me not to be able to put my foot down in a single game is really heartbreaking.”

Bowness is now 69 years old. He didn’t sound like someone who’s ready to retire, but wouldn’t reveal his future plans.

“I know what I’m going to do,” Bowness said. “I know what I want to do, but that will come out.”

Click to play video: 'RAW: Winnipeg Jets Rick Bowness Interview – May 2'

RAW: Winnipeg Jets Rick Bowness Interview – May 2

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