TAMPA — The Lightning aren’t playing in the Eastern Conference final for the first time in four seasons, but coach Jon Cooper will get his share of face time this weekend as a guest analyst for TNT’s Game 2 broadcast.
Cooper will be in studio Saturday with Wayne Gretzky, Anson Carter, Paul Bissonnette and Liam McHugh for the pregame show at 7 p.m., before the Panthers and Hurricanes play in Raleigh, North Carolina. He will provide analysis during the first and second intermission shows, as well as the postgame show.
Cooper knows both teams extremely well. The Lightning’s growing cross-state rivalry with the Panthers is well known, and Tampa Bay eliminated Florida in each of the past two postseasons. Despite being in a different division, the Hurricanes are regional rivals. The teams see each other often in offseason camps, the preseason and regular season. The Lightning also beat the Hurricanes in the second round in 2021.
Cooper developed a strong friendship with Gretzky — the NHL’s career goals, assists and points leader. The two have offseason homes in Idaho, and Gretzky joined Cooper for his Stanley Cup day in 2021.
Cooper hasn’t had the opportunity to be a guest analyst in recent years, since the Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Final each of the past three seasons.
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