TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Lightning’s coach Jon Cooper, says that, he just wants to keep things nice and quite around the home of the Lightning, the Tampa Bay Times Forum, as he continues to make preparation for the 2014-15 National Hockey League season.
The first order of business it seemed for Cooper and his staff is, to make sure that the team’s captain Steve Stamkos is 100 percent healthy and is fully recovered from a broken leg that he suffered with last season.
Next item on the list of things to be achieve by Cooper, is to find some suitable and talented players to fill the responsibility of the different rolls on the team, support the offense, play superior defense and be able to help the Lightning improve so they all can make the next step in the NHL.
Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman, is helping Cooper out by getting defenseman Jason Garrison away from the Vancouver Canucks, by giving Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop a two-year contract extension and by signing free agents.
Both Yzerman and Cooper have said, that Bishop played hard enough last season to keep the focus away from the other issues that haunted Tampa, that really needed to be addressed.
“A lot of our season may have been masked by some of the outstanding goaltending by Ben Bishop,” Cooper said. “The playoffs was a bit of a wake up call for us.”
Bishop was traded to Tampa Bay back on April 3, 2013 from the Ottawa Senators for Cory Conacher.
Bishop stands 6-foot-7 inches and weighs 214 pounds and last season, he played in 63 games for the Lightning. He finished the season with 37 wins, a save percentage of .924 and a 2.25 goal against average. He worked five shutouts for Tampa Bay and that was fifth last season in the NHL, all of that hard work by Bishop earned him a nomination for the Vezina Trophy.
Cooper is looking to mix some youthful enthusiasm with veteran experience to make the Lightning a team that will make some noise during the season and in the playoffs.
Joining Garrison as a member of the Lightning, defenseman Anton Stralman, goalie Evgeni Nebokov and forwards Brain Boyle and Brendon Morrow.
“The one thing we’re looking for is, can we be a better hockey team than we were last year?” Cooper said. “We’ll know we’re a better hockey team if we have the opportunity to make the playoffs.”
“As a group, you had a bunch of guys that haven’t been in the NHL long enough to know any better,” Cooper said about the team’s chemistry. “I think we’ve got a group that really wants to try to take the next step.”
This is the time of the hockey season when hopes are high along with expectations about any team in the NHL and the measure of success is that your team makes it through the season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Cooper says that it is no different here in Tampa as it is in Detroit, Toronto or in the city of Los Angeles were the cup presently resides. Cooper wants everybody just too remain cool and calm, let the season unfold and then we all can judge the Lightning‘s season.
“All I ask is don’t blow us up to be something we’re not!” Cooper said. “That is the one thing I don’t want people to do.”
The preseason begins for the Lightning, Tuesday night, September 23, 2014 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The puck will drop to center ice at 7:30 p.m. against the Nashville Predators.
The NHL regular season begins at home in the Forum, Thursday night October 9, 2014 against the Florida Panthers, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Cooper is hoping along with the Lightning fans that there is improvement with this team and that success will follow the Lightning through out the season and continue into the playoffs. Which means-all of the quietness should be replaced by the sound of loud thunderous applauds.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.