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Cooper Named Finalist for NHL Coach of the Year

05/06/2014, 10:00am CDT
By bwerger

Former Gamblers coach has best winning percentage in USHL history

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper has been named by the NHL as one of three finalists for the 2013-14 Jack Adams Award, presented annually to the NHL coach who has contributed most to his team’s success.

It was the first full season for Cooper with the Lightning after taking over head coaching duties late last season.  He led the Lightning to a 46-27-9 record (101 points) and a second place finish in the Atlantic Division.  It was a big turnaround for the team after they finished 28th overall in the standings a season ago.  Cooper helped the Lightning qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite playing a large part of the season without Steven Stamkos, one of the NHL’s top goal-scorers.  Tampa Bay also had eight rookies in the lineup throughout the season, the most of any NHL team.

Cooper spent two seasons behind the bench for the Green Bay Gamblers (2008-10) and built a culture of winning that has vaulted the Gamblers to one of the top programs in the USHL.  In just his first with the team, he led them to a League best 39-17-4 record.  They earned 82 points in the standings which was a 50-point improvement from the prior season, representing the largest turnaround in USHL history.

The next season, Cooper guided the Gamblers to a then team record 45 wins and their second straight Anderson Cup title for the best overall record during the regular season.  The team didn’t stop there as they would go on in the playoffs to capture the Clark Cup championship.   Cooper would be named the USHL Coach of the Year and also earn his second consecutive USHL General Manager of the Year Award.

Cooper finished his time in the USHL with an 84-27-9 record, a .738 winning percentage that is the highest in USHL history.  He also posted a 13-6 record in the Clark Cup Playoffs.

He was hired away from the USHL by the Norfolk Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lighting, and led the team to a 39-26-15 record in 2010-11.  Cooper then guided Norfolk to a record setting season in 2011-12 as they posted a 55-18-3 record, tops in the AHL and most wins in team history.  The team finished the season on a 28-game win streak which was the largest in league history and then captured the AHL Calder Cup after posting a 15-3 record in the playoffs.  It was the first championship for the organization.

Cooper is joined by Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche and Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings as finalists for the Jack Adams Award.  The winner will be announced during the 2014 NHL Awards ceremony in June.  

It is the second time this spring that a former USHL coach has been considered for an award.  Jeff Blashill (Indiana Ice, 2008-10) was named the coach of the year in the American Hockey League (AHL).


Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 12th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2013-14.  A record 32 players were chosen in the 2013 NHL Draft and more than 300 players on team rosters last season have committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.  For more information, visit us on the web at or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (, twitter (, and YouTube (  Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (

It’s not just hockey. It’s the USHL.

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