International Ice Hockey Federation

The low-down on Lowry

The low-down on Lowry

10 quirky titbits about Canada’s WJC coach

Published 23.12.2015 01:43 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
The low-down on Lowry
Dave Lowry talks with the Team Canada players during a camp in St Catharines prior to the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. Photo: Vaughn Ridley / Getty Images
Dave Lowry will become one of Canada’s most scrutinized men as he coaches the World Junior team in its bid to repeat as champions in Finland.

Fortunately, the 50-year-old bench boss of the WHL’s Victoria Royals is no stranger to being under the microscope. As well as serving as an assistant coach with last year’s U20 gold medal team in Montreal and Toronto, Lowry played 19 NHL seasons and made it to two Stanley Cup finals as a left wing with the Florida Panthers (1996) and Calgary Flames (2004). Before coming to Victoria, he was a head coach with the Calgary Hitmen and an assistant with the Flames.

Here are 10 quirky titbits about Canada’s 2016 bench boss.

1) The 1,000-Game Club

Lowry was part of one of the more lopsided trades in NHL history.

When he was dealt to the St. Louis Blues on 29 September 1988, it didn’t look like the Vancouver Canucks were giving up much. When they shipped the Sudbury native off for Ernie Vargas, they’d previously informed him they wouldn’t protect him in the waiver draft. Regarding Vargas, a big right wing from Minnesota, then-Vancouver director of hockey operations Brian Burke enthused: “He likes to bang and can score some goals.”

Lowry wound up playing 1,084 NHL games, tied with Theoren Fleury for the 196th-most in league history. Conversely, Vargas never appeared in the NHL. At age 51, he’s now an amateur scout for the Minnesota Wild.

2) The Magical Playoff Run

Like Chris Kontos with the 1989 Los Angeles Kings or John Druce with the 1990 Washington Capitals, Lowry discovered a scoring touch he’d never enjoyed at the NHL level before in Florida’s ‘96 run to the finals, where they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

Outpacing regular-season leaders like Scott Mellanby and Rob Niedermayer, he led the team with 10 goals and 17 points in 22 games. As South Florida got caught up in hockey fever, Lowry’s red playoff beard became his calling card, and when he walked into a local bagel shop one morning, he got a standing ovation.

Prior to that run, he’d only scored five career playoff goals, and he’d tally just one more time, in the 2000 post-season.

3) Maintaining a Royal Tradition

Did you know that every coach in Victoria Royals history has also coached Canada’s World Junior team?

Lowry’s one and only predecessor in British Columbia’s capital city was Marc Habscheid. The 1988 Olympian was the first man ever to both play for the Canadian U20 squad (1982, gold) and coach it (2003, silver). Habscheid also helped guide Canada to gold at the 2004 Worlds and silver in 2005.

When the Chilliwack Bruins relocated to Victoria for 2011-12, Habscheid was already in place as the coach. He stepped down at the end of the season, and Lowry has been in charge ever since.

4) Officer Lowry?

When St. Louis sent Lowry down to the IHL’s Peoria Rivermen in 1988/89, the fourth-year pro briefly thought about quitting pro hockey altogether and joining the police. However, he reconsidered and potted 31 goals and 35 assists in just 58 games for Peoria. Lowry made it back to the NHL and wouldn’t return to the minors until 2002/03, when Calgary demoted him to the AHL’s Saint John Flames.

5) Bang for Your Buck

In 1999/2000, Lowry showed how much he wanted to keep playing NHL hockey by accepting the league’s lowest salary. He got $150,000 from the San Jose Sharks, tied with long-time Czech star Pavel Patera of the Dallas Stars. The highest-paid player that season was another Czech, Jaromir Jagr, who earned a whopping $10,359,852.

6) Hanging Around with Legends

Since boyhood, Lowry has constantly crossed paths with the biggest names in our sport. Here are a few examples.

As a minor hockey player with the Nepean Raiders in Ontario, he played with the legendary Steve Yzerman. On 18 August 1989, when Igor Larionov participated in his very first off-season scrimmage as a Russian pioneer with Vancouver, Lowry suited up as his line mate.

When Brett Hull was regularly notching 70 or more goals a season for St. Louis alongside centre Adam Oates in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Lowry was their line mate too. And in an unfortunate twist, Doug Gilmour’s career ended after an accidental collision with Lowry in a Toronto-Calgary game in 2003.

7) The Man They Call “Pie”

Lowry was nicknamed “Pie” throughout his NHL career. The origins of the nickname are shrouded in mystery. Some say it had to do with his round face as a young player. But Lowry himself sometimes alleged that it had to do with his skill at math. Former Calgary teammate Denis Gauthier once quipped: “The way Dave tells it, it was something about pi – you know, like 3.14 and all that stuff. It makes him look smart.”

8) Roomie Rumours

Current Flames assistant general manager Craig Conroy told the Calgary Herald in 2013 that he lamented the demise of the old NHL system of having roommates on the road. However, he also pointed out a potential downside when he noted that one of his old roommates – Lowry – snored: “I thought it was a joke the first time I heard him. You had to get earplugs. You had to be ready. It was loud. You couldn’t believe it. Amazing.”

(Of course, since Conroy represented the U.S. at both the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2006 Olympics, this may merely be American propaganda.)

9) Great Hockey Genes

Sports run in the family: not only is Lowry’s wife Elaine an Ironman triathlete, but his sons are proudly carrying on his hockey tradition. Centre Adam Lowry, 22, is in his second season with the Winnipeg Jets. Forward Joel Lowry signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings in August, and is currently assigned to the AHL’s Ontario Reign.

10) He Fought The Law

How times have changed. Although Lowry wasn’t known as a pugilist, he fought 55 times during his NHL career, including 25 times in his first two seasons with Vancouver. As fighting continues to become a thing of the past in top-level hockey, it’s a safe bet that the World Junior coach will forbid his players from dropping the gloves under the IIHF’s stricter rules.


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