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Jets add some ‘pop’ to the lineup

Dave Lowry won’t need much introduction to the Winnipeg Jets. The club’s new assistant coach has been watching them closely for years since his son, Adam, is a key part of the roster. The proud papa will get a more personal look this coming season, leaving the Brandon Wheat Kings after one year behind their bench to join Jets head coach Paul Maurice’s crew. 

Just don’t expect any “Dad, you’re embarrassing me” moments with this new arrangement.

“That obviously comes into play. It was something that we had to have Adam’s blessing on and I totally understand if he wasn’t comfortable with me coming in and being part of the staff, this is something I wouldn’t have continued to pursue,” Lowry said Monday afternoon during a Zoom call with media. 

He takes the place of Todd Woodcroft, who left to become the head coach of the University of Vermont hockey team.

This will mark the first time father and son have had a player-coach relationship since Adam was playing peewee hockey in Calgary more than 15 years ago. 

“The biggest thing is that I’ve recognized a long time ago where Adam was. With the leadership and the coaching he was getting, he didn’t need to hear from me as a coach. That’s something that when we would come in for games, we would talk about how he is doing, not how did he play or what happened here or what happened there,” said Lowry. 

“The coaching he has received up to this point has been second to none and I’m excited to be on the bench and watch him continue to grow as a player.”

The 55-year-old Lowry is well-travelled in hockey circles. He played 19 seasons in the NHL, split between Vancouver, St. Louis, Florida, San Jose and Calgary.

He’s also been an NHL assistant coach with the Flames and Los Angeles Kings, and led the Wheat Kings to a 35-22-6 record last season before COVID-19 shut the season down in March.

He joins Jamie Kompon, Charlie Huddy and Wade Flaherty as Maurice’s trusted lieutenants, while former assistant Pascal Vincent remains at the helm of the Manitoba Moose. 

“It’s funny. Through a conversation that Paul and I were having, that’s one of the things he did mention, out of a lot of candidates, this would be a team that I knew a lot about and was extremely familiar with,” said Lowry.

“One thing that I like to do, when I do watch and when I did watch Winnipeg play, I like to sit back and enjoy the game. But as a coach, you’re always watching what the tendencies are, what the systems are and you just try to pick up as much information as you can. Hopefully, you find somewhere along the line that you can implement it into your game.”

Lowry doesn’t have to travel far to get to his new hockey home. He was in Brandon preparing for the delayed Western Hockey League season when this opportunity came up “right out of the blue.”

Lowry said Maurice first approached him about joining the organization four years ago but the timing wasn’t right. He wasn’t about to pass up a second chance this time around. 

“Paul and I had talked, I think it was four years ago, when the NHL draft was in Buffalo and he had approached me and asked if I would have any interest. We mutually agreed at that point in time that this wasn’t the right fit,” said Lowry.

“I felt and Paul felt that Adam wasn’t an established player in the NHL and he was still finding his way. We left it at that. Four years later, he’s a solid NHL player, he’s established himself in the NHL and that’s what allowed this opportunity to come to fruition.”

Adam has played 408 regular-season games since the Jets drafted him in the third round (67th overall) in the 2011 draft. He’s entering the final year of his contract, making US$2.9 million, and will become an unrestricted free agent next summer if he is not re-signed before then.

“I don’t think me being on the bench, or his contract status… I don’t think I have anything to do with it. Adam’s gotta go out and be the best player that he can be. Our expectation is you need him to be good to win, and that is a challenge that will present (itself) to him on a daily basis,” said Lowry.

Lowry said he’s grown as a coach, specifically when it comes to communicating with today’s players. Working with teenagers in Brandon, and as a coach in 2015 and 2016 with Canada’s world junior championship teams, has given him a new perspective.

“I think the biggest thing is it’s all about building relationships and connecting with players. For me the big thing is to be there when they need you and to really learn and identify how and what makes each player tick and how do they learn. With an established coaching staff, I’ll be able to pick their brain to be able to figure out how to work and how to teach these individual players,” said Lowry, who was coy about giving details on what his specific focus will be with the Jets.

“Paul and I have talked about what my responsibilities are gonna be and that’s something that I’m not really interested in divulging right now. The big thing is that Woody did leave and as an assistant coach you’re always out working with the young guys and the healthy scratches and that. That’s something that I really enjoy and that’s something I look forward to doing,” he said.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

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