This 12 months’s Stanley Cup finals options two head coaches who’re very aware of each and every different: The Dallas Stars’ intervening time trainer, Rick Bowness, was once an assistant for the Lightning’s trainer, Jon Cooper, for 5 years at Tampa Bay.
George Gwozdecky has shared a bench with either one of them, having been an assistant trainer for Cooper, and Bowness’s colleague, for 2 seasons beginning in 2013.
Cooper, 53, had no N.H.L. enjoy when he changed into the Lightning’s head trainer overdue within the 2012-13 season. Within the low season, Bowness and Gwozdecky have been added to his body of workers, in large part on account of the just about 70 years of training enjoy they jointly had. Bowness, 65, now holds the N.H.L. document for many video games coached (2,473 getting into the finals). Gwozdecky, 67, have been a school trainer for 32 years ahead of he joined the Lightning, successful two N.C.A.A. titles in 19 years on the College of Denver.
“Within the two years I used to be there, Rick was once an enormous, large help to Jon in working out how this complete factor labored,” Gwozdecky mentioned, relating to the myriad problems dealing with a first-time trainer within the N.H.L., like figuring out the trip time table.
Cooper had a restricted enjoying background and have been training professionally simplest since 2010, and Gwozdecky had by no means labored within the N.H.L. “We didn’t have a clue,” Gwozdecky mentioned. “Rick was once the fellow who needed to say, ‘That is how it is going, boys.’”
Cooper took an abnormal path to the N.H.L. He labored on Wall Boulevard, then went to legislation college ahead of changing into a public defender. “As a trainer, his court is the locker room and the clicking convention room,” Gwozdecky mentioned. “He’s no longer a man who will solution questions with the everyday clichés. They’re all smartly idea out.”
Bowness was once named Dallas’s intervening time trainer on Dec. 12 when the Stars fired Jim Sir Bernard Law for unprofessional habits.
Beginning with the unique Winnipeg Jets within the 1988-89 season, Bowness has been an intervening time or head trainer for 6 groups. Sooner than Dallas, his ultimate head training enjoy was once with the Coyotes in 2004.
As assistants to Cooper, he and Gwozdecky bonded over their respective obligations — for Bowness, the protection and penalty kill, and for Gwozdecky, the forwards and gear play — and their lifetimes in hockey. Gwozdecky mentioned they regularly walked in combination to the rink from the staff lodge.
“We’d cross within the safety door, and everybody in safety knew Rick, and plenty of of them knew him via identify,” Gwozdecky mentioned. “Everybody was once all the time satisfied to look him once more. He’s a salt-of-the-earth man.”
And he likes vintage rock. When he’d go back to his automobile after a tradition or a street shuttle, Gwozdecky recalled, “as quickly because the home windows have been down it’s good to pay attention Led Zeppelin cranking out of the auto.”
Gwozdecky mentioned he didn’t be expecting Cooper and Bowness to marvel each and every different on this sequence, which is tied at one recreation apiece. Sport three is on Wednesday night time in Edmonton, Alberta.
“While you’ve been round each and every different up to the 2 of them have, you know the way the opposite man thinks, how he examines the sport, what’s essential to him, what his strengths and weaknesses are,” Gwozdecky mentioned.
He added: “It’s going to be fascinating for me to look at how each groups play towards each and every different. As a result of what each and every staff has completed, there aren’t going to be dramatic adjustments to their recreation plan, however after Sport 1, you’ll see some delicate changes right here and there.”
However who’s he rooting for?
“I’m torn as a result of Rick and I, and our other halves, changed into lovely darn shut,” Gwozdecky mentioned. “As a trainer, he was once put into some difficult eventualities, however regardless of the place he went, he all the time were given probably the most out of his groups. I’d love to look Rick get his identify at the Stanley Cup, however on the similar time, on account of the Tampa avid gamers I labored with, and clearly the training body of workers, I’d like to look their names at the Cup as smartly.”
Gwozdecky mentioned he had exchanged texts and an occasional telephone name with Lightning avid gamers and body of workers all the way through the playoffs. After Tampa Bay complicated to the finals, he teased the Lightning’s video trainer, Nigel Kirwan, by means of textual content about leaping in entrance of avid gamers to get within the staff image.
“From a rational point of view,” he persevered, “you suppose the more youthful man” — relating to Cooper — “goes to have extra alternatives to win it. Rick’s been round for one of these very long time, and helped such a lot of organizations; because of this I’d love for him to look his identify at the Cup.”
Whoever wins, Gwozdecky can’t lose.