Lightning fans and media figured this was coming and rightly so: Jon Cooper is a Jack Adams Award finalist for coach of the year.
He is everything that the Lightning need in a coach right now, save for an experienced coach with a Cup ring. He is equal parts serious and funny, as I gush over him as a media darling.
He had a warm-up with the Lightning during the lockout shortened season to get acclimated and managed to get the Bolts in the playoffs. Let us not speaking of anything that happened after that point for now.
In his first full season behind the bench, Cooper guided Tampa Bay (46-27-9, 101 points) to a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division after the club placed 28th in the overall League standings in 2012-13. The coach of Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate in Norfolk when it captured the 2012 Calder Cup, Cooper successfully incorporated several young players into the Lightning lineup, as a League-high eight rookies appeared in at least 40 games — five more than any other club. The Lightning were 20-11-9 in one-goal games after ranking last in the NHL with a 5-12-4 mark the season before, and posted 21 road wins, one shy of the franchise record.
His competition is tough in Patrick Roy and Mike Babcock. To me, Roy gets the award. Roy didn’t have the benefit of a warm-up season behind the bench in the NHL and he took the team from picking first-overall to the playoffs. Voting stops before the playoffs, so his three playoff wins as a coach and a series loss won’t hurt him.
Mike Babcock managed to get a team that was playing short-handed all year into the playoffs along, keeping the playoff streak alive. While that’s great, there are greater underdogs to root for, which seems to be the trend.
“Jon is the type of coach that gets the most out of his players. There’s some learning process that has to happen with him also, but at the same time, he’s done some really good things.”
Yes, Cooper has had a good season, but there’s a great one in there waiting.
- Bolts goalie prospect changes the spelling of his name and signs with the team. Welcome Andrei Vasilevskii. We’ll just call you Andy. Erik Erlendsson | Tampa Tribune
- Missed Coach Cooper’s long interview on WDAE? Watch or listen. Big Dog Steve Dueming | WDAE
- Puck Daddy had Jon Cooper at No. 4 and thinks Roy will win. Greg Wyshynski | Puck Daddy
- Sarasota resident selling his sweet collection of NHL goalie helmets for $48,000 including a signed one by Nikolai Khabibulan. Craigslist.
- Part-time Longboat Key, Fla., resident Peter Laviolette is now the new Nashville Predators coach. Josh Cooper | The Tennessean