The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they have extended head coach Jon Cooper’s contract. The announcement comes one day after the six-year anniversary of when Cooper took over behind the bench, becoming Tampa Bay’s eighth head coach of the franchise.
The exact details of the contract have not yet been released, but it is a multi-year extension that should be expected to fall within the five-year range. To draw a quick comparison, Canadien’s head coach Claude Julien signed a five-year deal a couple of years ago and Mike Babcock’s record deal with Toronto was for eight years.
Cooper’s career record with the Lightning is 301-157-44 that comes out to a win percentage of .643, according to Hockey Reference. He is the longest active tenured coach in the NHL and has helped lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to the postseason four times, which included three trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and one Stanley Cup Final.
This year he has coached the Bolts to their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy, along with numerous other historic marks, as the team prepares for another anticipated deep run into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lightning currently have 59 wins, with five games remaining, and are still on pace to break the NHL all-time regular-season wins record of 62 wins currently held by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings.
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“I am very pleased to announce Jon’s extension today,” said Lightning vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois in an NHL.com report. “His ability to forge impactful relationships with everyone from players to staff has been a trademark of his tenure with the organization and he is the absolute best coach for our hockey team.”
It is remarkable what Cooper and this team have been able to accomplish this season, especially for Cooper not letting the distraction of having no contract in place after this season impact his duties behind the bench. If we learned anything from Philip Seymour Hoffman’s role as former Oakland Athletics manager Art Howe in the movie Moneyball, it’s that coaches tend to not like working with one year left on their contract.
Well, apparently that doesn’t apply to Coach Coop as both he and his team have been able to repeatedly block out the noise and focus on the task at hand, winning hockey games. That will continue to be the mission through this last handful of games and into this year’s playoffs, as Cooper will seek his first and the franchise’s second Stanley Cup.