)
Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Emotional night for Tyler Johnson as he returns to Tampa for first time as an opponent

The former Lightning forward receives a standing ovation, and coach Jon Cooper says he was “welling up” during the tribute video.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson is acknowledged by the crowd during a break in play during the first period of Friday's game at Amalie Arena.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson is acknowledged by the crowd during a break in play during the first period of Friday's game at Amalie Arena. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Apr. 2|Updated Apr. 2

TAMPA — As a tribute paying homage to Tyler Johnson played on the Amalie Arena video board Friday night, head coach Jon Cooper fought off watery eyes behind the Lightning bench.

Johnson, traded to the Blackhawks in the offseason for salary-cap relief, played an instrumental role in Tampa Bay’s rise to the top of the NHL and ended his eight-plus seasons with the Lightning by twice lifting the Stanley Cup.

So, when the video played during the first period of Tampa Bay’s 5-2 win over Chicago it was in a way reliving all of the good times.

The home crowd welcomed Johnson back with a standing ovation, and he briefly came off the bench to acknowledge them.

“It’s pretty cool,” Johnson said after the game. “Obviously, Tampa is always going to have a special place in my heart. So to kind of see all the memories and be back and have the fans support me like that is pretty cool.”

Cooper was reflective after the game, which was a milestone for him, as well.

“I was welling up, to be honest,” Cooper said of watching the video tribute. “I’ve coached 700 games I found out (Friday) in this league, and (Johnson) was a big part of a lot of them. And I may not be around for 700 if it wasn’t for guys like Tyler Johnson who performed the way they did for a long period of time while I was the coach.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, center, and his assistants, Derek Lalonde, left, and Jeff Halpern, right, mind the bench between whistles during the third period.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, center, and his assistants, Derek Lalonde, left, and Jeff Halpern, right, mind the bench between whistles during the third period. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

“There’s a group of guys, the guys (who) have been here since the beginning, I have a special place for them. It was a well-deserved and lovely ovation for him all around.”

Cooper earned his 426th career win, most by any NHL coach in their first 700 games. The previous mark of 419 wins in 700 games was held by Bruce Boudreau (419), currently coaching the Canucks.

NOTE: On the same night that new Lightning forward Nick Paul handed out three assists, Mathieu Joseph — who was sent to the Senators in the trade-deadline deal for Paul — netted his first career hat trick in a 5-2 win over the Red Wings.

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter

We’ll send you news, analysis and commentary on the Bolts weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

• • •

The Tampa Bay Times has commemorated the Lightning’s second consecutive Stanley Cup title with a new hardcover coffee table book, Striking Twice. Order now.

Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge