After 40 years of being a hockey coach, and with 2,726 games under his belt, Rick Bowness finally called it a career on Monday morning, the Winnipeg Jets announced. The 69-year-old began coaching as a National Hockey League assistant in 1984, and he leaves the game exactly four decades later as a Jack Adams Award finalist.

“Hockey won't be the same without you, Bones,” the Jets' social media team wrote, while posting an emotional tribute to the longtime bench boss:

“For the last seven years, since my last year in Tampa, every year I sit there and I talk to Judy, I talk to the kids, I'll talk to ‘Chipper' [Jets chairman Mark Chipman] and ‘Chevy' [general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff],” Bowness said last week, per

“I know what I'm going to do. I know what I want to do, but that will come up. This game has given us a tremendous lifestyle that we never could have dreamed of as kids. We still love it, still have the passion for it. Listen, as I tell the players, every day in this league is a blessing. We're treated so well. We're in the best hockey league in the world. Never, ever, ever take a day for granted in this league. I never have and I never will. I just love the game. It's been my life.”

An incredible career for the longtime veteran, who has coached six different NHL teams — including the Jets twice.

Rick Bowness was a staple in the NHL coaching world

Winnipeg Jets head coach Rick Bowness talks to media after their loss to the Colorado Avalanche in game five of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canada Life Centre.
James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Bowness had a terrific year with the Jets in 2023-24, coaching the team to a 52-24-6 record, good for second place in the Central Division. And after four decades of coaching, he was honored with a first-time finalist nod for the Jack Adams, given to the NHL coach of the year.

Although it was a tough ending — Winnipeg bowed out to the Colorado Avalanche in five games in Round 1 — Bowness has proved time and again his mettle as a coach in the NHL. He's been around the game for decades, playing 173 games as a member of the Atlanta Flames, St. Louis Blues and Jets before retiring and beginning his coaching career in 1984.

Bowness was never able to capture an elusive Stanley Cup, but he went to the sport's ultimate series as an associate coach with the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 and again with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015. In 2020, he was the head coach of the Dallas Stars team that came within two wins of a championship.

“His 2,726 games as head coach, associate or assistant are the most in NHL history, and he's one of three coaches (Scotty Bowman and Pat Quinn) to work in five different decades and the last active coach to guide an NHL team in the 1980s,” wrote

After coaching the Stars for three seasons, Bowness returned to Winnipeg to replace now-Florida Panthers bench boss Paul Maurice, who has nothing but good things to say about his colleague.

“That's a guy you want to talk hockey with because he's got a perspective and experience from players, different leagues, assistant coach — I mean, just everything,” Maurice said recently, per

“A lifetime. I'm happy that he has the rare opportunity as a coach to call your shot. He did a marvellous, marvellous job with that team over the last two years. They played exceptional. I hope he's appreciated for the work he did there. I know the people there appreciate him, but he did a really strong job.”

The Jets will now be one of three NHL teams without a full-time bench boss, and it won't be easy to find a head coach who can step into the enormous shoes that Rick Bowness will leave behind.