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Bowness to return behind Jets' bench

Rick Bowness Rick Bowness - Getty Images

Winnipeg Jets head coach Rick Bowness will return behind the bench for the 2023-24 season, according to general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.

Bowness, 68, was hired on a three-year, $8 million deal last July where the team has the option to exercise the third year.

The 13-season head coaching veteran led the Jets to a 46-33-3 record and finished fourth in the Central Division for a wild card berth in the playoffs.

"I thought he did a great job, not just Rick but the entire coaching staff," Cheveldayoff said during his end of season press conference on Sunday. "At certain points of time maybe you would have liked more consistency, [but] those are things they instilled. In Rick's situation, he's more than comfortable going into the season with his contract as is."

The Jets failed to make it past the first round and were eliminated in five games by the Vegas Golden Knights, including a tough 4-1 loss in Game 5 on Thursday."I'm so disappointed and disgusted right now, there has to be pride," Bowness said on Thursday.

"You have to be able to push back when things aren't going your way. We had no pushback. Their better players were so much better than ours tonight. They deserved to win."

Bowness' outburst did not sit well with some of the players in the Jets dressing room including former team captain Blake Wheeler.\

"I thought Bones had an opportunity to address us as a team," said Wheeler on Friday. " He could've been honest with us, handled it behind closed doors. I didn't like how he handled himself after the game."

However, Cheveldayoff doesn't believe those comments will be an issue going forward in the Jets' dressing room.

"If he could have chose some different words I'm sure he would've," said Cheveldayoff. "One thing that came as advertised is [Bowness] held no punches to anybody, it didn't matter who you were, he was honest."

"The emotional investment that the players put in is insurmountable, but the coaches are equal to that. Rick sat in on all the exit meetings and some of the conversation were about those comments. Rick addressed them and they left the meetings saying that [Bowness] will call them in a couple of weeks."