Is Rick Bowness the problem for the Dallas Stars? We would be doing our fellow Stars fans a disservice if we did not explore the idea.
Rick Bowness is an extremely like-able guy that knows the game of hockey better than most. If you feel differently about Bowness, go listen his interview with the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast that aired last October. Bowness is genuine in his Chiclets interview. He tells stories of his time as a player-coach in the old Central Hockey League and gushes over spending time with his sons on the golf course during offseasons.
There is a lot to like about Bowness, but, to steal a line from the Chiclets crew, this piece is not about ‘pumping Rick’s tires’.
Not enough offense
Rick Bowness has been a player or coach in professional hockey since 1975, and it shows. That’s not a slight on Rick; rather, is to suggest he’s as old school as old school hockey guys come. Bowness employs a defensive-focused system in Dallas that relies on disciplined positioning and stellar puck movement. The defense-first Stars came within two wins of the Cup in the 2020 playoff bubble, but fell completely flat last season.
Dallas lacked the offensive firepower to makeup for poor goalie play and scattered injuries along the blue line in 2020-21. Many Stars fans remain frustrated the team remains in the bottom third of the NHL in scoring metrics.
One can argue the Dallas Stars would be better off hiring an offensive-minded head coach. After all, the NHL is trending more and more to high-power, high-scoring offense. That is not to imply defense should be pushed aside. However, several familiar foes have adopted offensive philosophies that have resulted in the Stars receiving more shots on goal than they’re dishing out.
Locked into his ways
The potential exists for Rick Bowness to adapt his system to meet the NHL’s changing landscape. However, such potential remains slim. Bowness talks about his coaching style during the Chiclets interview, of which he sticks to his guns. Rick makes it clear he will not be changing his ways behind the bench any time soon. We cannot blame him, but we can imagine his style cuffing the Stars with too old of a roster too long. The Ryan Suter signing is an example.
The Dallas Stars will march one of the oldest rosters onto the ice in 2021-22 because they have no other choice. What Rick Bowness has going in the Big D requires certain levels of maturity, respect, and self-discipline. It is no secret that Bowness needs veteran players to make his system work. Veteran players and accountability inside the locker room contributed to the Stars success during the 2020 playoff bubble.
We recently suggested the Stars should trade for Jack Eichel and transform their roster with a generational offensive talent. Such a trade would require a new head coach as we’re sure Eichel and Bowness would clash. Heck, we’re sure Bowness would clash with a much younger Tyler Seguin. Such is a foregone conclusion due to the level of maturity in the current Eichel and former Seguin.
Rick Bowness was rightfully awarded the Dallas Stars permanent head coaching gig after the 2020 playoff bubble. He led the Stars through the bubble and to the Stanley Cup Finals, but was it lightning in a bottle? One can argue the bubble’s unusual circumstances left the door wide open for a veteran team like the Dallas Stars to thrive. The Stars found their footing after awful round robin play and rode the momentum to the finals.
The reality of today
Another subpar season from the Dallas Stars will likely result in history forever reflecting on the 2020 bubble as a fluke performance. Jim Nill replacing Rick Bowness as head coach would likely come next.
For now, the reality is the Stars have a head coach that is of good values and well-respected around the league. The game is always about the players and how they perform. Dallas will again put a roster on the ice with the potential to perform at a Cup winning level. Rick Bowness will scheme like a wise hockey man who has been a part of the game for almost five decades and rely on his players do execute.
Like it or not, Stars fans, Rick Bowness is the Dallas head coach for the new season. The Stars roster is built for his defensive-oriented system, a system that has found recent success in the most chaotic of seasons. We like Rick and hope he can bring us a second Stanley Cup.
Rick Bowness’s coaching career came full circle when he was put in charge of the Stars bench following Jim Montgomery’s firing. Once upon a time, the Halifax native was one of the youngest NHL assistant coaches at age 27. At 36, Bowness was named head coach of the Boston Bruins. However, in 2020, Bowness became the interim (and later permanent) head coach of the Dallas Stars at age 64. -J.G.
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