Yzerman: Cooper doing 'excellent' job
Lightning coach Jon Cooper isn't going anywhere.
While Tampa Bay, a preseason Stanley Cup favorite, is stunningly out of playoff position at the season's midpoint, don't expect any changes to involve the coaching staff.
"I think (Cooper) is doing an excellent job," GM Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday.
It's not like this should be a surprise. Cooper has led the Lightning to three consecutive playoff appearances, including trips to the Stanley Cup Final and Eastern Conference Finals in back-to-back years. There's a reason Yzerman signed him to a multi-year extension just 13 months ago.
But with the Lightning struggling, having lost four straight to fall six points out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, it's fair to evaluate everything going on. Fans have started to use hashtag #FireCooper on Twitter.
It's hard to judge Cooper and his staff with the slew of injuries he's had to deal with. Captain Steven Stamkos, the team's top scorer and leader, has missed 25 games. No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop has been out for three weeks. Anton Stralman, Nikita Kucherov, Ryan Callahan, have all been sidelined. At one point, the Lightning was without six of its 12 forwards.
"We've had players out consistently all year long and trying to fit new players in," Yzerman said. "And we've got a lot of young guys coming in and playing their first (NHL games). You spend a lot of time figuring out who is going to play with who and trying to teach these new faces the system.
"Our team competes really hard, and I think (Cooper) and his staff have done a really good job. I like the way we play. I like the style. We've got to improve in some areas. The type of play our coaches led by Coop want the team to play I'm very comfortable with. We'll get through this and these situations make us all better. And for Coop who is still a relatively young coach, all these experiences, he's learning from them."