Who is the top coach in the NHL?
Jon Cooper of Prince George has the best credentials yet the Tampa Bay Lightning’s bench boss is almost taken for granted.
The NHL individual awards were handed out this month and once again Cooper came away empty-handed.
Darryl Sutter of the Calgary Flames captured the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s best coach.
I am not suggesting Cooper should have won it this season but how is it he has never captured this award?
Sure Tampa has a great goalie and a loaded roster but Cooper does not get enough credit for his leadership, game adjustments, and helping to create a winning culture.
NHL awards are based on the regular season so let’s not even take into account that Tampa is making its third straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, winning hockey’s biggest prize in both 2020 and 2021.
In 2017-18, Tampa had the most points in the Eastern Conference with 113 (which was 19 more than the previous season).
Gerard Gallant was named top coach after guiding the first-year Vegas Golden Knights to 109 points.
In 2018-19, the season the Lightning was swept in the first round of the playoffs, Tampa finished with a 62-16-4 record, good for 128 points, a whopping 21 more than the next best team (both Boston and Calgary had 107).
That season Barry Trotz won the award as his New York Islanders finished with 103 points, 23 more than the previous season.
In 2019-20, the Lightning posted 92 points in 70 games, second-most in the Eastern Conference behind Boston’s 100.
Bruce Cassidy of the Bruins took the Jack Adams Trophy.
By the way, do you know what Gallant, Trotz, and Cassidy have in common?
Each has been fired by the team they captured the award with.
In 2020-21, Tampa had 75 points in 56 games, five back of the Carolina Hurricanes and you guessed it Rod Brind’Amour of the Hurricanes was named top coach.
Even going back to 2014-15, Cooper’s second full season with the team, Tampa ended up with 108 points, third-most in the East but Bob Hartley of Calgary was voted best coach after the Flames had 97 points (20 more than the previous season).
Is the coach of the year really the best coach or is it the coach that saw his team improve the most in points?
Here is an example of a head-scratcher or what may be considered more disrespect.
Franchise Sports named its 25 NHL coaches of all time.
Names on the list include John Tortorella (I am not joking), Paul Maurice, and Lindy Ruff.
There is no mention of Cooper.
For the complete list click here.
Cooper has a .650 winning percentage in nine full seasons with the team (715 games), which puts him second all-time for coaches with at least 300 games.
I am not sure how he would do with a team like the Buffalo Sabres that has not been to the playoffs in 11 years.
What we do know is he has done a masterful job with the Lightning and is now the longest current serving head coach with the same NHL team.
Jon Cooper apologizes for his media availability immediately following Game 4. pic.twitter.com/1KUi0ykGhk
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 23, 2022
He was selected head coach of this year’s Canadian Olympic team providing NHL players participated which they did not.
That is recognition very few receive.
Cooper will be the first to suggest individual awards do not come close to winning multiple Cups which may be true, but still what do awards mean if not always the best candidate wins?
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
Signs of summer in baseball, weather heating up, getting closer to the All-Star break, and pitcher Stephen Strasburg, is back on the Washington Nationals injured list.
*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
The Cleveland Browns are reportedly looking for a site to build a new stadium. The lease on their current home, First Energy Stadium, runs out in 2028 or whenever Deshaun Watson’s legal problems are resolved, whichever comes first.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
Colts strong safety Khari Willis abruptly retired from the NFL at age 26 to join the ministry.
Or, as Indy spin-doctors put it, he got an offer sheet from the Saints.
*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/
In Case You Missed It:
Colts safety Khari Willis, age 26, unexpectedly retired from the NFL to join the ministry. Worried fans immediately cried, “OMG, Baltimore doesn’t have a prayer.”
*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).