While most of us are still in shock over the firing of Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, the team did not take long in naming a new head coach. Two names were floating around social media in speculation of who he might be. First there was Jon Cooper, head coach of the Syracuse Crunch. Second was previous head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, Lindy Ruff.
It was no surprise when the announcement was made that Jon Cooper would in fact be taking over the head coaching duties on the Lightning, and should be in place behind the bench by Friday night’s game. He will not coach tonight’s game.
In speculating, it could go either way for Coach Cooper. He has been a very successful coach with every level on leagues that he has advanced to. He took the Norfolk Admirals, when they were still the Lightning’s AHL affiliates, to the Calder Cup Finals last season and brought home the trophy. This year they switched affiliations to the Syracuse Crunch, and Cooper adjusted well. Of course he had most of his star players make the move with him, as they are within the Lightning organization. He kept the team successful last year when Tampa Bay had so many injuries and called up a good number of his AHL players. He’s done the same this year, the Crunch having a great season, and again, a lot of the key players are in Tampa. He knows how to run a successful team. He has worked with and already has the respect of half of the players on the Lightning. Those players know his systems already and how he works. He has proven that he’s been successful with the rise of every level that he’s taken.
On the other hand, would Steve Yzerman really take the gamble of choosing another AHL coach who has not been tried in the NHL yet? Guy Boucher had never coached in the NHL before. He was successful in his first year, but has been sliding since. In this, the third year of a four year contract, he seemed to have lost the team somehow. Though he continued to work hard, the guys just weren’t making his systems successful anymore. Yzerman was quoted as saying that he wasn’t happy with the direction that the team was going. It was a big risk taking on an untried coach in the NHL. Would he take that leap and try another?
Apparently, he did. And he has faith that Coach Jon Cooper will be the force to drive the team back into gear. Assistant coaches Dan LaCroix and Steve Thomas will remain behind the bench for at least the rest of this season. Assistant Coach Marty Raymond will be sent to Syracuse. Goaltending coach Franz Jean will stay put.
Welcome to Tampa Bay, Coach Cooper! We here at Bolts By The Bay wish you a warm Sunny Florida welcome and much success.