The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed head coach Jon Cooper to a multiyear extension, which crosses off at least one thing on general manager Steve Yzerman’s to-do list. The team did not disclose the financial details or the term of the new deal.
The Lightning have been off to a slow start this season, with a 12-11-3 record thus far. This puts Tampa sixth in their division, with their next game against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
Cooper has coached the Lightning to the post-season in each of his two full seasons with the club. He picked up his 100th career win in April of 2015, becoming the fifth-fastest coach to do so among those who’ve started their coaching careers since 2000. Cooper was also a Jack Adams Award finalist in 2014.
In 205 games behind the bench in Tampa, he has a 112-70-23 record. That amounts to a winning percentage of .602.
“I’ve said all along, it’s a privilege to coach in this league and it’s an honour to be able to do it for the Tampa Bay Lightning,” Cooper said. “And to work for Jeff Vinik, for what he’s done for this organization and the city of Tampa, and directly report to Steve Yzerman and how he’s conducted himself as a professional, and how he’s conducted himself with me and this team, there’s no other place I’d rather be, so for this to happen, I couldn’t be happier.”
Cooper has fuelled the rise of young talent in Tampa and has really been responsible for the new look of the Lightning. He’s the eighth youngest coach in the NHL and has never coached a team at any level of the game with a losing record.
Cooper has won two championships in the North American Hockey League with the St. Louis Bandits, he’s won the Clark Cup in the United States Hockey League with the Green Bay Gamblers and he’s snagged the Calder Cup in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals. He’s clearly hoping to add more hardware to the list, although he has a little work to do this year with the Lightning.
Yzerman has been watching Cooper coach for a long time and this contract represents a vote of confidence in the coach.
Next up on the GM’s to-do list is the handling of the Steven Stamkos contract, which continues to be a significant issue in Tampa. Stamkos’ contract expires on July 1, at which point he could become an unrestricted free agent.