Mar 29, 2013, 1:44 PM EDT
Jon Cooper, 45, is excited as we get closer to his first game as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s head coach and he expects those emotions will just build as the day goes on, according to an NHL.com report.
“How am I looking right now? Am I looking OK?” Cooper asked after the Lightning’s practice. “OK, so take this and do the opposite and that’s what is going on in here.
“I’m jacked. This is really, really exciting. I’ve got a plan. I’ve done it my way, and here I stand today.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m really nervous, although five minutes before the game I’m sure I will be. There is a wave of emotions. I wish everyone could feel what I’m feeling right now. It’s pretty cool.”
Cooper, the former head coach of AHL Syracuse, is inheriting a team that’s unlikely to make the playoffs despite a wealth of talented players. Former bench boss Guy Boucher led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, but goaltending woes have been a big problem in recent years.
Cooper doesn’t plan to change the way he coaches and part of that means giving his players more freedom in the offensive zone. That’s something that should appeal to two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner Steven Stamkos.
“It isn’t like you weren’t allowed to make plays with Guy. You still went out there making reads, making plays,” Stamkos said in a Tampa Bay Times report. “But here we know what’s allowed and what’s not, and there’s a lot of in-between where you can make a decision on your own.
“There aren’t specific things in your head you’re thinking about when you’re out there.”
“You’ve got to let guys breathe,” Cooper reasoned. “You’ve got to let them be free down there.”
The New Jersey Devils will be Cooper’s first opponents and his approach will be countered by future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur.
Apr 17, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Two teams meeting for the third time in the playoffs.
Apr 17, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT
Just in case you don’t recognize them tonight.
Apr 17, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT
“You definitely want to be physical on him.”
Apr 17, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT
Game 1 gets underway at Scottrade at 8 p.m. ET (on NBCSN).
Apr 17, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT
Classic rivalry will get underway tonight at Scottrade.
Apr 17, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT
Even though they’re not really underdogs.
Apr 17, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
Apr 17, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT
Both teams bounced back from bad starts to make the playoffs.
Apr 17, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT
Matt Duchene is already on the shelf.
Apr 17, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
Apr 17, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT
It’s a motivation thing.
Apr 17, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT
He had eight points in 19 games with New York.
Apr 17, 2014, 8:25 AM EDT
New York, St. Louis, Denver, and San Jose is where it’s at tonight.
Apr 17, 2014, 1:19 AM EDT
A Tyler Seguin bullet, no less.
Apr 17, 2014, 1:08 AM EDT
A tale of two games, really.
Apr 17, 2014, 12:52 AM EDT
“We did it time and time again.”
Apr 17, 2014, 12:26 AM EDT
“It’s one that got by him.”
Apr 17, 2014, 12:03 AM EDT
The trio was big in Wednesday’s Game 1 victory over the Jackets.
Apr 16, 2014, 11:23 PM EDT
It’s bad enough to inspire Jon Cooper’s pity, though.
Apr 16, 2014, 10:59 PM EDT
“We aren’t here just to go to school. We’re here to win.”
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