Lightning’s Cooper leads team to victory again

by Gary Shelton on December 10, 2021

in general

Cooper has reached 400 wins in a hurry./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 4 a.m.

He just got here, didn't he? He just unpacked. He just pulled the blue sweater over his head and started to coach.

Has it really been 10 years already?

Has it really been 400 regular-season victories.

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper became the fastest coach in NHL history to win his 400th game Thursday night as he guided his Bolts to a 5-3 victory over Toronto. It was the fourth straight road win for the Bolts.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

The time has gone by quickly for Cooper, who has won two Stanley Cups and played for a third in his time. He's won when he's had the better teams -- particularly lately -- and he's won as an underdog. He's won despite devastating injuries to Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. He is close to his team, but there is a calm in the chaos.

"I found that out on the bench at the end of the game when (Corey) Perry and (Pat) Maroon were kind of ribbing me," Cooper said. "I haven't had a lot of time to digest it. Obviously, i’m pretty proud to have done it with one team. You don’t do it without an owner ... two general managers who are committed to having the same goal, being on the same page. I've had some fabulous assistant coaches who made me look good in a situation like this. And a whole bunch of hell-of hockey players. They’re the ones who get the wins.

"It's a pretty humbling moment to be honest, but pretty cool."

If you're looking for a decision to mark Cooper's 400th, consider this one. With Anthony Cirelli out (as are Kucherov and Brayden Point), he promoted rookie Taylor Raddysh to the first line. That line had four goals against Toronto.

Ondrej Palat had two of those, although one was an empty-netter. Stamkos had four points.

“It’s pretty amazing to have that accomplishment (400 wins)," Stamkos said of Cooper. "He’s come into the league and he's taken up from where he left off in every other coaching job he’s had. That success follows him and follows the team he coaches. It’s been a pretty amazing ride in the NHL. I think he has a lot more wins to come."

Besides Palat, the Bolts got goals from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Stamkos and Raddysh.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 35 of 38 shots.

The Bolts play in Ottawa on Saturday afternoon before returning home for next week's games. The puck is to be dropped at 1 p.m.

Previous post:

Next post: