Big league looms for Lowry

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

Once Dave Lowry's playing days were over, he always envisioned a return to the NHL -- as a coach.

He may realize that dream sooner than he could have ever envisioned.

After a spectacular WHL regular season, when he guided the Calgary Hitmen to a CHL-best 59-9-4 record, the rookie bench boss will likely receive some interest from NHL clubs this summer.

"We all have aspirations," Lowry said yesterday as he held exit interviews with his players.

"As a player, you always have dreams of playing in the National Hockey League. And, I think it's no different as a coach, or in management at the junior level.

"I would be lying if I didn't say 'yes, I do have aspirations to be a coach in the National Hockey League.'

"But I also have a pretty good opportunity right here, right now. For me to look at moving on, it would have to be a very good opportunity, and something that would work well."

Lowry said he hasn't received any offers yet, and that he won't rush any decision.

"I think that would be tampering if I did (have an offer)," Lowry said. "I'm currently under contract and we just finished (the season).

"I'll sit back and reflect on what happens here, and look forward to moving on and coaching a hockey club next year."

Hitmen GM Kelly Kisio was quick to say Lowry would be welcomed back with open arms next season. But the WHL executive of the year sounded like he was reading Lowry's letter of recommendation.

"I think Dave's done a remarkable job in the years he's been here," Kisio said. "This year especially.

"Him moving on? I don't doubt there's a chance that he could move on. Obviously, we'd love to have him back and see what will happen next year again.

"His hockey knowledge is second to none. He has a confidence that few other guys have and he's steadfast in his beliefs.

"If you don't play by his beliefs and what he wants, there's a good chance you won't be playing."

After spending three seasons as an assistant coach with the Hitmen, Lowry has enjoyed being in charge. He said he'd consider an assistant's job in the NHL under the right circumstances.

"I think I would look at all different opportunities," Lowry said. "Right now, I'm enjoying being a head coach.

"Everybody knows, to be a coach in the National Hockey League, it comes down to bench experience and bench management.

"Kelly's been very good to me and gave me the opportunity for three years to run the back end of the bench and, this year, the whole bench."

Lowry said there would be obvious differences between coaching pros and juniors.

In the pros, for example, he wouldn't have to worry about who's not doing their homework.

"I'm not that far removed from the game," he said. "I still have contact with a lot of players. And at the end of the day, it's dealing with people.

"When you go to the pro ranks, all you're dealing with is the player and preparing him to get ready to play that night.

"When you're coaching junior, you have to worry about the off-ice issues -- homesickness, school, and everything that goes with it."

Whichever bench he's on this fall, he knows one thing for sure: Coaching is in his blood.

"I knew when I was a player, I wanted to stay in the game in some capacity," he said. "I didn't feel I had any interest in the scouting side of it.

"I was fortunate that I got a great opportunity in my last year, because of injury, to be on the bench (with the Flames).I was able to go through the first round (of the playoffs) and part way through the second round ... From that point on, I knew I wanted to be a coach."


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