Dave Lowry led the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 35-win season when the campaign was shut down because of the novel coronavirus. He was back in Brandon, putting together all the organization’s plans ahead of Wheat Kings’ training camp this year which is slated to begin after Christmas.
While Brandon will still hold training camp late next month, Lowry won’t be there following an important phone call. It was Paul Maurice, Head Coach of the Winnipeg Jets. He wanted to know if Lowry wanted to join his coaching staff. This wasn’t the first call between Paul and Dave, either.
Four years ago when the NHL Draft was being conducted in Buffalo, Maurice had asked Lowry if he wanted to join the coaching staff. Ultimately, it wasn’t the right time as Dave’s son, Adam was just breaking into the NHL.
Now a veteran of more than 400 NHL games, all with the Jets, Adam has become a full-time player with Winnipeg and one that can make an impact. So Paul reached out to Dave and once again asked him if he wanted to join the team’s coaching staff.
“I know Paul had asked Adam if he was okay with it and he was,” said Lowry. “I told Paul that I needed to talk to Adam. It’s plain and simple, if we didn’t have Adam’s blessing, this wouldn’t be an option.”
After a chat with his son, Dave has officially been named an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets ahead of the new season which could begin on January 1.
“As a coach and as a player, you always want to continue to get better. I’m extremely excited for this opportunity,” said Lowry. “I look at the staff in place with Paul and his staff, this gives me a chance to go and learn from some outstanding NHL coaches.”
The new season will mark the start of Dave’s third stint as a coach in the NHL. He was also an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames from 2009 to 2012 and more recently he was with the Los Angeles Kings from 2017 to 2019.
Lowry has always been regarded as a great player’s coach, one that commands respect from his players and in return, creates great bonds with every person in the dressing room.
“It’s all about building relationships with players for me. These players always have to understand that they’re going to be coached with the goal of them improving,” offered Lowry. “I want these players to know that I care about them.”
After a playing career that included more than 1100 NHL games (including playoffs), Dave became an assistant coach with the Calgary Hitmen in the 2005-2006 season and he was ultimately promoted to head coach in the 2008-2009 season.
He’s coached the WHL all-stars at the Junior Super Series, Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, and the Victoria Royals, all of which led to joining the Brandon Wheat Kings last season.
Time as a Wheat King:
Brandon had somewhat of a slow start to last season. Dave says their record wasn’t indicative of how they were playing; however, they turned it around right after Christmas. The team won 10 straight games from December 30 to January 24.
The team’s point streak extended to 11 games when they lost in overtime the next night against Lethbridge.
The Wheat Kings went 6-3-1 in their final 10 games. They were just six points behind the Prince Albert Raiders for the top spot in the East Division. There may have been no team that was hotter during the second half of the season. In Brandon’s final 26 games of the season, they went 18-5-3.
It was, in the end, just a short stop for Lowry in Brandon. That doesn’t mean; however, he won’t remember his time in the Wheat City for the rest of his days.
From his great relationship with Darren Ritchie to every other relationship he built and all the success the team enjoyed, the new Winnipeg Jet will always have a spot for the Wheat Kings in his heart.
“Our group collectively took great strides throughout the season,” ended Lowry. “I had an incredible time with Brandon and I was extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity. The entire organization is first class. From our players to our coaching staff to our support staff to all of our incredible fans, we had it all.”