Sports

Lightning give coach Cooper 3-year extension

A day before they start their quest for a third straight Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they have signed coach Jon Cooper to a three-year extension that runs through the 2024-25 season.

“Unequivocally, Coop is the best person for the job,” Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said in a statement on Monday. “He is a great leader, spokesperson and ambassador for our organization. We are lucky to have him as our head coach and I very much look forward to our continued partnership.”

Cooper, 54, will be entering his 10th season behind the Lightning bench, making him the longest-tenured coach in the league. Tampa has won back-to-back titles, and Cooper guided the Lightning to the 2015 finals in which they lost to the Blackhawks.

“It has been a tremendous honor to be the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the past eight-plus seasons and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to build on what we have here,” Cooper said. “My family and I love the organization and being a part of the Tampa Bay community, it is our home. I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to Mr. Vinik, Julien, Steve Griggs, the rest of the coaching staff and all the players for making this one of the best jobs in the NHL.”

After defeating the Canadiens in five games to win last season’s Cup, the Lightning are a favorite to win it again. No team has won three in a row since the Islanders won four straight from 1980 to 1983.

And this is the salary-cap era, so Tampa has had to retool to remain compliant. The Lightning lost Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman, David Savard and Yanni Gourde during the offseason. They signed 36-year-old winger Corey Perry, hoping he retains the magic he had as a member of Montreal last season.

The Lightning kick off the NHL season Tuesday against the Penguins at 7:30 p.m. ET in the return of the NHL to ESPN. They’ll raise their title banner before the puck drops.

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