Spotlight on the Opponent: Coach Jon Cooper

What: Tampa Bay at Detroit
When: Saturday, November 9, 7:00pm (TV: FSD)

Jon Cooper

These aren’t last season’s Tampa Bay Lightning—at least not so far.

The Lightning are striking, sitting atop the Atlantic Division with a nifty 11-4-0 record. They have scored 51 goals, ranking 7th in the NHL in goals for.

Early on, it’s looking as if GM Steve Yzerman’s decision to strip coach Jon Cooper of his interim tag from last season is paying off. Cooper coached the Lightning for the final 13 games after replacing Guy Boucher, going 5-8. Still, Cooper showed enough to warrant a promotion—no more “interim” for him.

Cooper is no stranger to winning. Guiding the Norfolk Admirals in 2011-12, Cooper won the AHL’s Calder Cup. After that, Cooper went to the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, and that’s where he was when Yzerman tabbed him to coach in the NHL for the first time.

Cooper certainly is one of the few former attorneys to ever coach in the NHL. He’s 46 now, and was practicing law until 10 years ago. In fact, he used to be a public defender in Lansing, MI.

Cooper, in a story that ran on Grantland.com last month, spoke of the whirlwind moments after Yzerman hired him to coach the Lightning last March.

“The whirlwind is getting the call from Steve Yzerman, and just in that moment you’re like Wow, my life’s about to change here,” he said. “But the one holy shit moment wasn’t flying in, and it wasn’t doing the press conference, and it wasn’t seeing or watching the game. It was at about quarter to eleven at night, when I walked into that room to the silence of 24 players and the entire staff and everybody was waiting to hear what I had to say. That was the one moment where if you could just stop it in time you’d go Ooh, wow, I wonder what everyone’s thinking right now.”

Right now, Jon Cooper is pressing all the right buttons. And, to borrow a phrase from his former profession, no one is raising an objection.

To read more of Grantland.com’s profile of Cooper, dated October 8, 2013, click HERE.

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