Being a young team, the Tampa Bay Lightning have seen their fair share of youthful, inexperienced mistakes. That factor alone makes Monday’s hiring of former Vancouver Canucks‘ associate coach Rick Bowness so important.
A 24-year veteran Bowness has experience winning. He made six of seven postseason appearances and was behind the bench when the Canucks advanced to the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. That might be key on a team boasting several players under 25 years old.
With the Lightning, he will focus mainly on defense. An Achilles heel for this team for many years, it’s safe to say Bowness will have his work cut out for him. But guys like Sami Salo, a former Canuck, and Victor Hedman , a second overall draft pick in 2009, should provide assistance. Both finished 2013 with a plus rating, which is more than veterans Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos can say.
Personally, I believe this hire’s borderline brilliant. Three years ago, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hired an inexperienced coach in Guy Boucher. While that move wasn’t completely awful, the decision to surround him with other green, or inexperienced, coaches didn’t work out.
Given a second chance, Yzerman made sure new head coach Jon Cooper got the help deserved by bringing in a veteran. That could end up paying dividends, as numerous prospects are expected to join the Lightning full-time beginning in 2014. Look, these guys will need someone to help ease the AHL to NHL transition, and Bowness has that opportunity.
At this point, what he does with it remains to be seen.