Apr 24, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches from the bench during the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tampa Bay defeated Toronto 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Cooper: Hope for the Lightning?

The challenge that lies before Jon Cooper is pretty clear-cut: bring the Tampa Bay Lightning back to respectability.

Does Cooper have the tools to accomplish the mission? Yes. Will be do it? That’s another question.

Jon Cooper’s success will depend in large part on his leadership style and his ability to engage the minds and hearts of his players. Will they buy into his vision? Will he create a system that capitalizes on the talents of his players, or will be insist that the players adapt their game to his methods and strategies?

Lindsay Kramer who covers the Crunch for The Syracuse Post-Standard had this to say about Coop’s relationship with his team,

The players he has coached are fiercely loyal to him and would go to the wall for him immediately.

Well that’s certainly positive. Most importantly, though, are the thoughts of Jon Cooper himself. And in one of his interviews, he commented,

If you ask if I’m a disciplinarian as opposed to a players’ coach, I would say I’ve grown into a little more of a players’ coach, but I don’t like to compare like that…I think I’m a mutual respect coach. I work hard and I have a lot of respect for the players, regardless of the ups and downs, and I try to get that from the players as well. If we have mutual respect for each other, it has to be earned. You just can’t talk about it.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – I think I like this guy. It’s a priceless commodity but mutual respect is so essential to the working relationship between player and coach.

As we anxiously await the drop of the first puck in the 2013-14 season, the X’s and O’ s on the chalkboard won’t matter as much as what kind of effort the players are going to give Jon Cooper on a game-by-game basis.

And if his mutual respect philosophy becomes a practical reality in the locker room and on the ice, then I believe that Bolts fans will be in for a pretty memorable season.

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