In their closing media sessions on Saturday, Winnipeg Jets players were asked about what the future may hold and the biggest talking point was the player’s reaction to head coach Rick Bowness’s comments following their Game 5 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
During a media conference after Thursday’s game, Bowness was asked his thoughts and said he was so disappointed and disgusted.
“We had no pushback, there were players who were so much better than ours, they deserve to win they were the better team in the regular season, they were the better team in the series,” Bowness said, adding his frustration with the team began in January and February.
According to Blake Wheeler, that disappointment could have been handled differently.
“He could have been honest with us, we could have had those discussions behind closed doors, so I didn’t agree with how he handled himself after that game.”
And for Kyle Connor, one thing in particular really bothered him.
“I guess the issue I have with it is, just kinda coming out of nowhere if that’s really how he felt. He kinda came into the locker room after the game and said a little something to us there and then obviously said what he said in the media so I think we need a little more transparency before that but other than that, it’s obvious…. really emotional guy.”
Bowness made a surprise appearance a day ahead of schedule at the final media day of the season. He said he believes using the word disgusted was probably too strong of a word.
“One of my many faults is that I am too emotional and I wear my heart on my sleeve, that being said, I criticize myself for the choice of words but the message, the clear message is one that I will never accept that kind of an effort in a game like that.”
Although he is proud of his team for making the playoffs and changing the locker room culture, Bowness said he never wants his team to be satisfied with just making the playoffs. He thinks the Jets could have won the series.
Winnipeg will have a busy off-season, as decisions need to be made surrounding the futures of Blake Wheeler, Connor Hellebuyck, Pierre Luc-Dubois, and Mark Scheifele
Goaltender Hellebuyck said he is not sure what team management’s plan is for him heading into his final contract year, but his main goal is to win a Stanley Cup.
“I’m just looking to compete every year, this year was so fun, and then getting in the playoffs it’s just a different style of game. You only get so many of those and going through five games of them, I enjoyed myself more in five games than I did all year.”
Hellebuyck was one of the Jets’ best players this season. The 29-year-old started 64 games, winning 37 and finishing the year with a 920 save percentage and two-point four-nine goals against average. He is expected to be one of the favourites to win the Vezina trophy for best goaltender in the NHL.
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