Dreger on Cooper’s future with Lightning

Jon Cooper is still without a contract for next season, but will this spring be a ‘Stanley Cup or bust’ type of situation for the Lightning’s head coach?

Darren Dreger had a Thursday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690, and the Insider was asked that very question.

“I doubt it,” indicated Dreger. “Because again, he’s such a good coach. He just is.”

Dreger was pressed on why the Lightning hasn’t extended Cooper then.

“Well, that’s a good point,” replied Dreger. “Barry Trotz went through a similar dance, didn’t he, with the Washington Capitals, and at the end of the day, Barry Trotz was pushed out - kind of a mutual decision - he’s doing fine with the New York Islanders, clearly. But they knew that they had Todd Reirden in the wings, and that was the direction they went in Washington.

“It is curious when you get to this point in the year and your coach hasn’t been extended. And it’s more curious - and certainly open and ripe for speculation - when it’s a coach of the significance of Jon Cooper. That’s why I even raise it as a possibility.

“And the only reason it makes any sense in my tiny little brain is because of longevity - the time that Jon Cooper has been with the organization. No different than Joel Quenneville, even though obviously he had a winning record in Chicago. Coaches have shelf lives, and that’s going to be up to Julien BriseBois and ownership in Tampa Bay to determine whether that’s where Cooper is at.

“But I think it would take a colossal failure of the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round One - maybe Round Two - for that even to be considered.”

Cooper was promoted from Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate to the NHL level as head coach of the Lightning in 2013.