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Lightning Round: Coach Cooper is going to the Olympics

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Now we wait and see if any of his players will join him

2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

On Monday, Team Canada announced that Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper would lead the team in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing if, and it’s a very big if at this time, NHL players head to China. While it’s Cooper’s first time as the head coach of Team Canada at the Olympics, he does have a little experience leading the national team, having coached them to a silver medal in the 20117 IIHF World Championships. He was also the head coach of that team that was too beautiful for the sport - Team North America in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Rounding out his staff will be friendly enemy Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders, Bruce Cassidy of the Bruins, and Pete DeBoer of the Vegas Golden Knights. The team, which has yet to be determined since the league hasn’t formally agreed to send their players to the Olympics yet, will eventually be put together by General Manager Doug Armstrong and Associate General Manager Ken Holland.

While Cooper will probably have some input on the final construction of the roster, he likely won’t be put in the position of leaving any of his Lightning players behind. Should Steven Stamkos or Brayden Point not make the team, the blame will likely be passed along to the executive staff. So there is unlikely to be any Marty St. Louis situation 2.0.

As a two-time Stanley Cup-winning head coach, a Calder Cup-winning head coach, a Silver Cup-winning head coach (USA Hockey National Junior B), a Robertson Cup-winning head coach (NAHL), and a Clark Cup-winning head coach (USHL) he is well on his way to being a hall-of-famer. If he adds an Olympic gold medal to his resume, then he is a lock for enshrinement.

With Team Canada putting their coaching staff together, hopefully it’s a sign that the NHL is making progress to agreeing to participate in the upcoming Olympics. It would be nice to see the best of the best going at each other next year (Brayden Point trying to score on Andrei Vasilevskiy in a shootout, yes please!)

Lightning/Hockey News

Ross Colton is still a Bolt! With an arbitration hearing lingering in the not too distant future, the two sides managed to come together with a reasonable deal. Colton is under contract for the next two seasons and should have an inside track at locking down one of the center positions next season. [Raw Charge]

It’s always fun to read the translations of the Russian interviews the Lightning players give in the offseason. They always seem to be a little more open and revealing. Mikhail Sergachev didn’t drop any big bombs in his interview with Sport24.re, but it is really good to hear that he is striving to make himself better and wants to hit the Norris Trophy-level of defensive play. [Raw Charge]

Ranking decisions before you can actually see tangible results sets my teeth on edge. The “Who won free agency?” or “Who won the trade deadline?” stories that come out five minutes after they happen drive me nuts. Notice, over the last two seasons the Lightning haven’t “won” those days according to the experts, but they’ve lifted the Stanley Cup. It is, however, the slow season, so why not grade every teams’ offseason so far even though we have no idea if the moves made will actually pay off. For all of those who don’t have ESPN+, the Lightning received a “C”. [ESPN NHL]

Ethan Bear seems to be a good dude. He made the social media rounds yesterday after word leaked out that he took a young hockey player shopping and purchased equipment so that the youngster could attend hockey camp. Awesome. [Bar Down]