Early Monday morning (anything before 9:00 AM on a Monday following a Bucs victory should be considered early) the Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up a little piece of lingering business as the organization announced that head coach Jon Cooper had signed a three-year contract extension. His new deal will carry him through the 2024-25 season. As per usual, financial terms were not disclosed, but we can assume he was handsomely compensated for his time.
Coach Cooper, who has been behind the Lightning bench since March 29th, 2013, is and will remain the longest tenured head coach in the NHL. He has also coached the most games in Tampa Bay history (634), won the most games (384), and racked up the most Stanley Cup trophies (2). His .647 points percentage is third all-time among coaches who have more than 300 games coached in their career trailing only Scotty Bowman (.657) and Claude Ruel (.648).
At some point this season Coop should become the 39th head coach in NHL history to hit 400 career wins, a pretty impressive stat especially since he’s done it for one franchise. With the way the club has performing over the past few seasons, there is a good chance he’ll be around the 500 win mark well before this contract expires.
Coach Cooper’s history with the organization is well know. He joined the franchise as head coach for the Norfolk Admirals for the 2010-11 season and then led the Admirals to the Calder Cup the next season while wheeling off a pretty impressive 28-game winning streak. He spent part of the next season in Syracuse before getting the call-up to the NHL team after Guy Boucher was dismissed.
As part of the TampaCuse invasion Coach Cooper took the team to the playoffs in 2013-14 and then the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014-15. In the eight full years as head coach he has guided the team to the postseason seven times (missing one season by a single point) and to the Finals three times. He has also led them to the Conference Finals two additional times. The last two trips to the playoffs have resulted in Stanley Cups. That’s a pretty impressive resume for a coach who has spent his entire life in the NHL let alone just eight seasons.
During his reign the Lightning have scored the most goals in the NHL with 2019 while Cooper has claimed the most victories during that time with 383. Despite all that fun there have been some times when the #FireCooper crowd has been active. The back-to-back Eastern Conference losses had them at full throat, claiming that he couldn’t get the team over the hump and into the promised land. We’ll admit, that at times even the Raw Charge team was frustrated by his seeming inability to make in-game adjustments and his dedication to playing Cedric Paquette in key situations.
That’s all wonder under the Howard
Franklin Frankland Bridge at this point. Since the first round loss to Columbus a few seasons back, Coach Cooper has pushed all of the right buttons. He’s mixed-and-matched the pieces and put his players in positions to succeed over the last two seasons. He’s provided a sense of calm behind the bench even during the relative rough stretches the team has gone through during the past two regular seasons. Cooper has been able to keep the team motivated, not always an easy task for a team that has won it all, and focused on preparing for the regular season.
That will continue to be a challenge for him during the new contract. So will the fact that he will be transitioning his roster over the next four years. It’s been a blessing that the core of this team has been able to stay together during his run, but that will change over the next few seasons. Tyler Johnson getting shipped out to Chicago this past offseason was the first sign that the TampaCuse generation is nearing it’s end, and the group of players that was with him at the beginning is starting to thin out (or grow depending on if Andrej Sustr makes the roster at some point this year).
This move was pretty much a no-brainer for a franchise that values loyalty and stability. He seems to like it here and he’s given upper management no reason to seek other options. The next four years will be an interesting period for the Bolts as they try to extend their Stanley Cup window while preparing for a roster turnover as players age out. With Coach Cooper behind the bench (and Andrei Vasilevskiy in the net) they should stay competitive.
Press Release from Lightning:
LIGHTNING SIGN HEAD COACH JON COOPER TO CONTRACT EXTENSION
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed head coach Jon Cooper to a three-year contract extension through the 2024-25 season today, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced.
“Unequivocally, Coop is the best person for the job,” said BriseBois. “He is a great leader, spokesperson and ambassador for our organization. We are lucky to have him as our head coach and I very much look forward to our continued partnership.”
“It has been a tremendous honor to be the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the past eight-plus seasons and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to build on what we have here,” Cooper said. “My family and I love the organization and being a part of the Tampa Bay community, it is our home. I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to Mr. Vinik, Julien, Steve Griggs, the rest of the coaching staff and all the players for making this one of the best jobs in the NHL.”
Cooper was named the ninth head coach in Lightning franchise history on March 25, 2013 and is now the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss. He made his NHL coaching debut at AMALIE Arena on March 29, 2013 in a 5-4 shootout victory against the New Jersey Devils. In a little more than eight seasons as the Lightning’s coach, Cooper has amassed a 383-197-53 record with his .647 points percentage the highest in the history of the organization. It also trails only Scotty Bowman (.657 in 2,141 games) for the second highest in NHL history among coaches with a minimum of 500 games coached, all while guiding the Bolts to back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 2020 and 2021. He’s also led the Lightning to five Eastern Conference Final/Stanley Cup Semifinal appearances over the past seven seasons, which also included a trip to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. On March 21, 2019, Cooper became the 49th head coach in NHL history to reach the 300-win milestone, joining Bruce Boudreau as the second head coach to have at least 300 career wins through 500 regular season games. In 2014 and 2019, he was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, given annually to the NHL’s top coach. Cooper joined the Lightning after spending three seasons behind the bench of Tampa Bay’s top minor league affiliates, the Norfolk Admirals (2010-12) and the Syracuse Crunch (2012-13), compiling a 133-62-26 (.661) record in 221 AHL games. He will also serve as the head coach for Team Canada at the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, after previously serving his country in the same position at the 2017 IIHF World Championships.
During the shortened 2021 season Cooper guided the Bolts to their second-consecutive Stanley Cup Championship after Tampa Bay defeated Montreal four games to one in the Cup Final, finishing off the Canadiens on home ice by a 1-0 score in a Game 5 shutout at AMALIE Arena on July 7, 2021. The Lightning blanked their opponent in all four series-clinching wins, an NHL record, and never lost back-to-back games during their playoff run.
The Prince George, British Columbia native led the Bolts to the franchise’s second Stanley Cup Championship in 2020, defeating the Dallas Stars four games to two in Edmonton, Alberta. After going 43-21-6 during the regular season which was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cooper and the Bolts didn’t need more than six games in any of their four rounds to capture the Stanley Cup.
During the eight full seasons with Cooper behind the bench (2013-21), the Lightning have enjoyed consistent success on the ice. Tampa Bay’s 383 regular season wins since Cooper’s hiring are the most in the entire NHL during that span. The Lightning have also been the league’s best offensive team during that time, ranking first in the NHL with 2,019 goals.
Cooper guided the Lightning to the finest regular season in franchise history and one of the finest ever in the NHL in 2018-19, culminating in the franchise’s first-ever Presidents’ Trophy after finishing 21 points better than second place Boston and Calgary in the final regular season standings. Tampa Bay tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for the NHL record for most victories in a single season after picking up win No. 62 in the final regular season game at Boston. The Lightning’s 128 points were the fourth most in NHL history. The Bolts set franchise records for wins, points, home wins (tied with 2014-15), home points, road wins, road points, ROW, goals, goals per game, power-play percentage and longest win streak, among many others, in 2018-19. Also with Cooper behind the bench, Nikita Kucherov captured the Art Ross Trophy (NHL scoring champion), Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP as voted by the PHWA) and Ted Lindsay Award (NHL MVP as voted by the NHLPA) and Andrei Vasilevskiy was awarded the Vezina Trophy (NHL top goaltender), the first such award given to a Lightning player, in 2018-19. Cooper earned his 100th career NHL victory on April 11, 2015, making him the fifth-fastest coach among those who debuted in the league since 2000 to reach that mark.
Prior to being named the bench boss of the Lightning, Cooper was awarded the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s top coach in 2012 after guiding the Admirals to the Calder Cup Championship. In two years in Norfolk, he led the Admirals to a 94-44-18 regular season record and a 17-7 mark in the playoffs. Along the way, Cooper and his team set a North American professional sports record, winning a remarkable 28 consecutive games. That season Norfolk earned the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL’s regular season points champion, while also capturing the league’s East Division title.
Cooper is active with a number of charitable organizations and causes. Among others, he continually participates in the battle against pediatric cancer and holds an annual event called Coop’s Catch for Kids, a charity fishing derby which benefits local childhood cancer research and care organizations.