Tampa Bay Lightning fans have been buzzing since the news of Guy Boucher’s dismissal broke yesterday. Who is the guy who will take his spot behind the bench? A veteran like Lindy Ruff or the wildly successful AHL coach already in the organization? Per Darren Dreger of TSN, Steve Yzerman’s man is Syracuse Crunch head coach Jon Cooper. Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times stated that no contract has been signed, so nothing is official as of yet.
Sports radio is already buzzing about the prospect. Is this the right move for the struggling Lightning? Should they have taken on a more experienced coach like Lindy Ruff? The point is a bit moot at this point. Cooper’s success with the Admirals and now the Crunch put him on the radar of a lot of teams. If he didn’t become a head coach at the NHL level, there was a very real possibility he would have done so somewhere else.
The shortened season will hopefully give him time to acclimatize to the NHL and the locker room dynamics here. A number of his guys are already up with the Bolts. Ideally the veterans will buy in based on their success.
Update: And it’s official. Jon Cooper becomes the eighth head coach in Lightning history. Cooper should have his first game with the Bolts at Friday’s home game against the Devils.