Match made in heaven

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

The premonition of Dave Lowry's post-career destiny came long ago.

As a player, Lowry always was willing to guide young up-and-comers.

He always was available to lend and ear or give out advice, be they matters to life on or off the ice.

More tangible foreshadowing of yesterday's announcement that Lowry will become the Calgary Hitmen's assistant coach came late in the 2003-04 Flames season. With a half dozen games remaining and head coach Darryl Sutter serving a suspension, Lowry -- injured at the time -- took a place behind the bench.

"That really showed me it's where I wanted to be," related the former Flames captain. "It was a one-game experience that turned into an opportunity."

Actually, it was more than just a one-game experience. Lowry was behind the bench for the rest of the regular season, the first-round playoff victory over the Vancouver Canucks and the first four contests of the Flames series against Detroit.

The only reason it stopped was because he returned to the fray during the club's run to the Stanley Cup final. Sixteen months later, after 1,084 regular season games, another 111 in the playoffs, the 40-year-old Lowry has retired and will take a post with the city's junior club.

At least the office will be the same for the man who spent four seasons in Flames silks.

"Yeah, I've got not excuse for getting lost," he joked.

Lowry, whose NHL career ends with 164 goals, 187 assists in the regular season and two trips to the final, has plenty to offer while working alongside Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio.

He replaces departed Hitmen co-coach Dean Evason, who was hired as an assistant by the Washington Capitals last month.

"I've always had a passion for the game and I've known that, when you get right down to it, I wanted to stay in the game somehow," Lowry said. "This is the right opportunity. I'd like to think I can offer a lot. I enjoy working with the kids and enjoy teaching. I'm fortunate to have had a lot of good teachers that I played with and hopefully I can carry that on."

For a while, Lowry had hoped the NHL lockout would allow him to play one more season.

After missing all of the second half of the 2003-04 campaign with a horrible abdominal injury, returning in time to help the playoff run, he hoped a full year off would allow him to heal well enough to give it one more shot.

Instead, the message to hang up the skates came loud and clear.

"I took six-and-a-half, seven months off to heal but when I started working out, I could feel it," he said without a hint of regret. "My body told me it was time. The next chapter is certainly a best-case scenario."

When coming here as a free agent from San Jose for the 2000-01 season, Lowry said it was with the intentions of making Calgary home for good.

"I've got a family that wants to establish roots, a daughter who's going to graduate next year," he said. "Those were big considerations."

Of course, this will mean a big change. No more chartered planes and first-class meals. It's back to the bus rides and pasta on the way.

"I was on the bus a couple of years ago, so I can handle it," said Lowry, reminding all of his half-season stint with AHL Saint John.

"The difference is now I won't get off and then have to play."


Videos

Photos