The Tampa Bay Lightning have had one of the best seasons in the history of the NHL, and the man who led them there is about to be rewarded. The Lightning announced today that they have signed head coach Jon Cooper to a multi-year contract extension. Cooper’s current contract was set to expire after this season. It is not clear how much the deal is worth, but it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the Lightning wanted to keep him around. GM Julien BriseBois explained his excitement at keeping his coach around:
I am very pleased to announce Jon’s extension today. 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. Coop’s ability to develop a strong culture while continually adapting has been a big part of the team’s success. He has helped set high standards for our organization with his unrelenting drive for excellence. I would like to thank Coop and his family for their continuous commitment to the organization, as well as to the Tampa Bay community, and I look forward to working in partnership with Jon for years to come.
Cooper joined the Lightning organization almost exactly six years ago after Guy Boucher was let go, and is now the longest-tenured head coach in the entire NHL. During those six years he has amassed a record of 302-157-44, becoming the franchise leader in wins and actually putting himself among the best all-time. Only Scotty Bowman has a better winning percentage among coaches with at least 500 games coached, though Cooper is still looking for his first Stanley Cup (Bowman has nine). He certainly has a chance to do that this season as the Lightning have put together one of the greatest years in recent history, currently sitting at 59-14-4 through 77 games.
It’s not much of a surprise that Cooper is finding success at the NHL level, as he has dominated at every previous level of coaching. He has won championships at the NAHL, USHL and AHL levels, also taking home Coach of the Year honors at each of those stops. While there’s no guarantee he secures either of those distinctions this season, there’s little doubt he’s among the finest in the league and will now be with the Lightning for several more years.