It didn't seem like much of a stretch when new Lightning coach Jon Cooper said his plan was for the team to make the playoffs — it is the bottom line for any coach — until you realized he was talking about this season. Note to Cooper: Tampa Bay entered Tuesday three points from the bottom of the league. Cooper, though, was the coach that led AHL Norfolk on a 28-game winning streak to end the 2011-12 season that culminated in the Admirals claiming the Calder Cup championship. "So, to hear somebody say the playoffs are history I don't know," Cooper said Tuesday at his introductory news conference at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "Until the final buzzer goes in the last game of the season, I'm coming to make the playoffs." Cooper said he even warned general manager Steve Yzerman that if he hired him, "I'm really going to try to screw up your draft pick." Whether the bravado was for show or sincere was not really the point. More important was Cooper, 45, who will be behind the bench for his first NHL game Friday at the Times Forum against the Devils, was telegraphing to fans and his players how he wants to compete. At one point, though he prefaced it by saying it's just an analogy, Cooper said his ideal team would be a combination of the 1970s Flyers — remember the Broad Street Bullies? — and the high-octane 1980s Oilers.
New Lightning coach Cooper talks playoffs
Tampa Bay Times | Mar 27