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Ryan Bowness

‘A match made in heaven’: Ryan Bowness proud of his hockey journey

July 28, 2023

Ryan Bowness can’t help but reminisce. There is a lot to reflect on. His journey to becoming an assistant general manager with the Ottawa Senators is certainly a credit to his perseverance, character and the family support he has always received.

Bowness entered hockey operational work immediately after his playing career concluded. He quickly earned an internship with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009, a position he found in the employment opportunities section of the National Hockey League website.

“I saw it as a way to get my foot in the door, build relationships, and work my way up, just like in any other industry,” he reflected. “But it hasn’t come without hardships.”

Bowness enjoyed his time in the Southern United States, however, a franchise relocation from Atlanta to Winnipeg presented career challenges and a degree of uncertainty about his future.

“It was touch and go whether I was going to get brought along,” he said. “Fortunately, I was put in a different role, and I had to kind of adjust on the fly and moved into scouting.”

Once again, Bowness found success, this time with the Winnipeg Jets, which in turn led to a senior position with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a director of professional scouting.

“In Pittsburgh, I moved into more of a leadership role,” he recalled. I also experienced the high of being part of a Stanley Cup Championship which, obviously, is a career highlight to this point.”

His scouting work continued to gain notice. This experience made him a frontrunner for an executive role in Ottawa. Ultimately joining the franchise has brought Bowness full circle, in a way. His father, Rick, was the first head coach in Senators’ franchise history.

“I was fortunate enough that Pierre Dorion sought me out last summer,” he said. “I remember when the call came in from [former Penguins general manager] Ron Hextall that they had requested permission to interview me. I hung up the phone, I looked at my wife, and said that would be too good to be true. The relationships I have here, a lot of my best friends in the world still live here. So, to be able to come back and reconnect in that in that way. It was a match made in heaven. This experience has been amazing so far for myself and my family.”

“Everything happens for a reason. You go through your steps along the way, just like anything else, and gain experience. Try not to screw up as much as possible and build the right relationships. That’s how I’ve ended up here.”

Since joining the Senators organization, he has taken on numerous roles in his position, which see him serve as the general manager of the Belleville Senators along with a focus on contractual-related items.

“When you’re in a management position,” he said. “It’s an all-encompassing role where you have to be able to adjust and adapt to anything around you while maintaining that proper personality to handle those situations.”

A graduate of Saint Mary’s University, Bowness has a degree in business. Before his collegiate hockey career with the Huskies, he played major junior in the Ontario Hockey League with the Brampton Battalion and Oshawa Generals.

Bowness grew up around the game. His father served various coaching capacities throughout his storied career. Rick is currently the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets. Despite this, Ryan never felt that he was guaranteed a career in hockey. Instead, he worked hard to chart his own course.

“Growing up around it, it’s all I knew; I didn’t know any different, that was just my life. I wanted to stay in it because it was my passion,” he said. “I guess just being around and following him along the way, soaking it all in and watching his relationships with other people, how he handles certain different situations, how his general managers handle certain situations, were things that stuck with me.”

“For me all along, it was very important for me that I carve my own path; I didn’t want to rely on him. That’s a big part of the reason why I didn’t get into coaching; I got into management; I wanted to be able to carve my own way. Obviously, the way I grew up and my relationship with him to this day, we, you know, I bounce a lot of things off, and we speak a couple of times a day still to this day, we’re very tight. But you know, again, it was important to me that I carve my own path.”

“At the end of the day, family is the most important thing, and you know we’re very fortunate, and we don’t take our jobs for granted. That’s the one thing that’s always amazed me about him. He’s been in the league since 1975. He literally does not take a single day in this league for granted. I’ve tried to carry that over as well.”

Ryan takes his role seriously and wants to inspire the next generation of hockey professionals as they pursue their dreams.

“I think anytime you can give back in those regards, you have to because I know what it feels like to do whatever I could to get my foot in the door,” he said. “The biggest thing for me was gaining experience, meeting the proper people, maintaining relationships, and being yourself. It doesn’t matter what level or what role it is. Don’t focus on being a general manager next year. Get around the right people and formulate those relationships. It’s like any other industry in the world.”

His next project will be building competitive rosters in both the Bay of Quinte Region and the Nation’s Capital, a challenge that leverages all his past experience and acquired skills.


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