TAMPA — Tuesday afternoon was anything but normal for coach Jon Cooper.
The Lightning announced Cooper’s multiyear contact extension one day after he celebrated his six-year anniversary with the organization and a week after recording his 300th NHL win in 500 games.
To Cooper, the decision to accept an extension wasn’t a decision.
“I had zero intention of going anywhere else,” he said Friday, speaking about the contract for the first time. “I wanted to stay here; my family wanted to stay here. There was never, ever a point of contention or ever a point of wondering what was going to happen.”
Cooper said he has been on the same quest since his job began, to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Tampa Bay.
He thinks a big part of that is who he is surrounded by, specifically naming owner Jeff Vinik, former general manager and current team adviser Steve Yzerman, GM Julian BriseBois, team chief executive officer Steve Griggs, and former Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke.
“There’s a reason why ESPN voted this franchise the best in sports a couple years ago, and I feel it’s a privilege to be a small part of that,” Cooper said. “Our family’s embraced this community; the community’s embraced us.”
Cooper is the franchise’s winningest coach, with 302 wins, and at six-plus seasons in Tampa Bay, he is the NHL’s longest-tenured coach.
But Cooper doesn’t think about those things, or dream about them, he said.
“I didn’t want to wake up one day and not be here,” he said.
Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @faiello_mari.