And Coach makes four.
The NHL award nominations continue to be released this month, and today's announcement were the finalists for the Jack Adams Award for the NHL coach who has "contributed the most to his team's success," as voted by the NHL Broadcasters' Association. He joins the Detroit Red Wings' Mike Babcock and Colorado Avalanche 's Patrick Roy as one of the top three vote-getters.
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.
Essentially, Cooper's best work was taking the Lightning from this:
The fact that this was accomplished without Steven Stamkos and with a roster weighted heavily with young players in their first or second NHL season makes the accomplishment even more remarkable.
This nomination is the fourth such honor for the 2013-14 Lightning. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are both finalists for the Calder Trophy for best rookie. Ben Bishop is nominated for the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender. It is a nice cap on a year in which the Lightning made tremendous strides as a club.
The awards will be announced on June 24 at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas. To be fair, it is unlikely that any of the Lightning nominees will come away with trophies. However the work that these players and coaches put in, the work that earned them the recognition, should stand them in good stead for the coming years. This is an exciting time to be a Lightning fan, folks. Enjoy it.