A clearly frustrated Rick Bowness absolutely blasted his team after an elimination-game loss from the post-season on Thursday evening. The Winnipeg Jets were embarrassed as their season came to an end, barely showing up and then having little push-back as the Vegas Golden Knights took an early lead in Game 5 and ultimately sent the Jets packing. The final score was a Jets 4-1 loss to Vegas and Bowness said, “Their better players were so much better than our players tonight and it’s not even close.”
When asked how he felt about the game, Bowness kept his press conference to under a minute. He frustratingly said he was “Disgusted” and annoyed that the team had “No pushback…their best players were better than our best players…No pushback…They deserved to win tonight.”
Some of these players will get the chance to make it up to him and the Jets’ fans next season. Some won’t as big changes are expected for this roster now. Bowness can’t be the only one in that room feeling frustrated and it will be intriguing to see who comes back and who doesn’t.
Pierre-Luc Dubois is a restricted free agent who had the strongest offensive season of his career but is being hammered today for a lack of effort in Game 5. Some believe he demonstrated how little he wanted to be there and many believe he’ll try to find his way to Montreal. It would be hard to imagine the Jets won’t consider such a move if the Canadiens show interest and offer a fair return in a trade. Should he stay, what does a new contract look like for him?
Other RFAs include defensemen Dylan Samberg and Logan Stanley.
There will also be questions when it comes to goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, defensemen Brenden Dillon and Dylan DeMelo, along with forwards Mark Scheifele, Nino Niederreiter, and Blake Wheeler, all of whom will be heading into the final year of their contracts. If they play out their contracts, the Jets risk losing all of them for nothing in free agency. That’s just not good business.
One thing seems certain, the same team cannot be back next season. There was a clear feeling that Bowness had been holding in his frustration for quite some time. When he hit the podium on Thursday night, it all came out. If the same team comes back, you have to wonder if he would have any desire to coach it. “There has to be pride,” he said. “You have to be able to push back when things aren’t going your way. We had no pushback.” If GM Kevin Cheveldayoff doesn’t change things up, Bowness will undoubtedly show Jets’ management what pushback really is.
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