Lightning's Cooper says not to stress over prospect tournament results
Lightning prospects, fresh off a two-day camp at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, play three games this weekend at a tournament in Coral Springs, Fla. But Lightning coach Jon Cooper said not to stress too much over the results of games against the Bruins, Predators and host Panthers.
He is talking from experience.
Cooper, then the coach of Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate in Norfolk, was behind the bench at the same tournament in 2011, when the Lightning went 0-3 and was outscored 15-6, losing 7-3 to the Predators and twice to the Panthers, 4-1 and 4-2.
The kicker? Norfolk, which was full of players who participated in that tournament, went on the win the AHL's 2012 Calder Cup title and had a 28-game regular-season winning streak to boot.
"At the time I think we used the word demoralizing," Cooper recalled Thursday. "And it wasn't just me. It was (GM Steve Yzerman) and (assistant GM Julien BriseBois). We were all, 'There is no way this is actually possible. It's unreal.' I'll tell you right now, after that tournament I thought, 'Oh, my God, we might not win a game in the American League.' "
Think of it Copper said, Norfolk mainstays Mark Barberio, Radko Gudas, Carter Ashton, Cory Conacher, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik all played in that tournament as did Brett Connolly who spent 2011-12 with the Lightning.
So, what is the prospect tournament good for?
"What it does is it introduces the organization on a competitive, almost system-wise level, to the players," Cooper said. "It also, I believe, calms their nerves before (training) camp. Now, they're a little bit more comfortable. They've been in the locker room. They've been with the guys. They've met friends. I think that's vital to everything. Ultimately, we want these guys to put their best foot forward come (Sept. 12) when we hit the ice, and this puts them in that position."