Jets head coach Rick Bowness is a finalist for NHL’s coach of the year

Rick Bowness may have shouldered the blame for his team’s early ouster from the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the veteran head coach of the Winnipeg Jets is getting recognized by the NHL.

The 69-year-old is one of three finalists for this year’s Jack Adams Award, as the coach who contributed the most to his team’s success.

In his second season as coach with this incarnation of the Jets, Bowness led the club to a 52-24-6 record, finishing second in the Western Conference and fourth in the NHL.

The Jets also set a franchise record for road wins this season, with 25, and won the William M. Jennings Trophy — to be awarded to star goalie Connor Hellebuyck — for the fewest goals allowed in the regular season.

It’s been a difficult year for the coach, who had to take a few games off for a medical issue of his own, as well as a more substantial leave early in the season when his wife, who has since recovered, was hospitalized after suffering a seizure.

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Bowness, who was also honoured at this season’s all-star game, is the franchise’s first Jack Adams finalist. The news also marks the first time he’s been nominated for the award after more than 2,600 games behind an NHL bench.

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Some of those games were also in Winnipeg, as Bowness previously served as bench-boss for the original Jets in 1988-89, a team he also played for as a forward less than a decade earlier.

He’s the only coach to have led both incarnations of the Winnipeg Jets.

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Bowness is up for the award against Rick Tocchet of the Vancouver Canucks and Andrew Brunette of the Nashville Predators.

Whether he wins the award or not, there’s still no word on whether the Jets’ coach will return for another season. At the year-end press conference Thursday, he said he wasn’t ready to 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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