Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reports that the Tampa Bay Lightning have begun contract extension talks with head coach Jon Cooper. Cooper is entering the final season of a three-year deal paying him $3.5MM per season.
A raise is undoubtedly in order for Cooper, who’s now guided the Lightning to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. It’s an incredible achievement for Cooper, who’s already the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL. He took over the reins with 15 games left in the 2012-13 season after Guy Boucher was fired.
The Lightning have never won less than 40 games in a full season coached by Cooper, who’s now 54 years old. His coaching record stands at 384-197-53, good enough for a .647 points percentage during his time as a head coach in the league. Those numbers tie him for 42nd all-time in wins and 11th among all current head coaches in the league.
Cooper’s job could get more challenging this year. Salary cap constraints hit the Lightning hard this offseason, and they’re now a team that will be relying on their youth more than in recent years. He’s shown at multiple junctures in the past that he can get the most out of Tampa’s prospect system, helping coach underappreciated assets like Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli to the heights of their success.
He’ll have to perform a similar act this year with names such as Ross Colton, Callan Foote, Mathieu Joseph, and other potential roster players such as Alex Barre-Boulet and Taylor Raddysh. If Cooper’s able to guide Tampa Bay to yet another Stanley Cup championship, he could become the first coach to win three straight Stanley Cups since Al Arbour won four in a row from 1980 to 1983.