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Lightning hires Jon Cooper as its new coach



The Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday hired Jon Cooper as its eighth coach.

Cooper, 45, leaves AHL Syracuse. He will be replaced by Crunch assistant Rob Zettler. Dan Lacroix and Steve Thomas remain as Lightning assistant coaches. Marty Raymond, who was a Tampa Bay assistant, moves to Syracuse to help Zettler.

Cooper comes with a strong minor league resume. Last season, he led the Lightning's AHL affiliate in Norfolk, Va., to the Calder Cup championship. The team also set a North American record for a professional hockey franchise with a 28-game winning streak.

When Yzerman on Saturday night fired coach Guy Bocher, speculation was the new coach would be either Cooper or former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. Tampa Bay knows Cooper will be in high demand over the summer from other NHL teams. The question was, did Tampa Bay want to again go with a coach who , like Boucher, does not have any NHL experience.

That said, Cooper is a great communicator and gets credit for developing the rookies on the Lightning roster -- such as Cory Conacher, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat -- who are playing so well since they were called up from Syracuse.

[Last modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 8:54pm]


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