Laying down the law: Jon Cooper must be extended by the Lightning

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 04: Head coach Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning watches the action from the bench against the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on December 4, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lightning defeated the Red Wings 6-5 in a shootout. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 04: Head coach Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning watches the action from the bench against the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on December 4, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lightning defeated the Red Wings 6-5 in a shootout. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Although he left his law practice years ago to pursue a career in coaching ice hockey, head coach Jon Cooper still knows how to build a strong case; his latest being why he deserves a well-compensated contract extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Coach Coop reached 300 wins in his 500th game behind the bench last night – in the Bolts’ 6-3 come-from-behind win over the Carolina Hurricanes – becoming just the second NHL coach ever to do so. Cooper now holds a .645 points percentage (points divided by maximum possible points) according to Hockey Reference, and sits among the top-four of all NHL coaches with at least 200 games coached in that stat line. Two of the three coaches ahead of him are Hall of Famers Tom Johnson and Scotty Bowman.

There is no doubt Cooper is in elite company already in just his seventh season (sixth full season) behind an NHL bench. Since taking over the Bolts’ head coaching duties on the back-half of the 2012-13 season, Cooper has coached the Lightning to four playoff appearances, including three Eastern Conference Finals and a Stanley Cup Final.

Bringing home the franchise’s second Stanley Cup remains as the primary task at hand for both Cooper and the Tampa Bay front office. And it is very possible that Cooper is the one holding out to see how this current historic season for the Bolts plays out, as he will surely be seeking a raise from his current contract of $2.25 million per year that expires after this season.

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When you look at the current two highest-paid coaches in the league – Mike Babcock ($6.25 million/year) and Claude Julien ($5 million/year) according to CapFriendly – both coaches share one stat that Cooper falls short of; both Babcock and Julien have won a Stanley Cup. Cooper might be waiting to re-sign with the Bolts until he knows whether or not this record-pace team in front of him has what it takes to win it all this year, compiling all the evidence needed in order to yield the greatest financial return for his coaching case.”

Regardless of what type of success this playoff run brings, the Lightning would be foolish to let Cooper get away and Cooper would be foolish to not re-sign with the Lightning. This is a team-coach relationship that many clubs and head coaches desire and one that has a very exciting and bright future in the years ahead.

More. Bolts set new record in win over Canes. light

The closing statement: whether it gets done before the end of this season or after, the Tampa Bay Lightning must extend Jon Cooper. Case closed.