Former NAHL, NA3HL coach Jon Cooper named Jack Adams finalist
May 8, 2014
Former North American Hockey League (NAHL) Coach of the Year Jon Cooper was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, which is presented to the National Hockey League (NHL) head coach who has "contributed the most to his team's success.”
The award was presented by the NHL Broadcasters' Association in 1974 in honor of the late Jack Adams, longtime coach and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings.
Members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association submitted ballots for the Jack Adams Award at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada.
Cooper, along with Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings and Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche are the other finalists for the award.
In his first full season behind the bench, Cooper guided Tampa Bay (46-27-9, 101 points) to a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division after the club placed 28th in the overall League standings in 2012-13. The coach of Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate in Norfolk when it captured the 2012 Calder Cup, Cooper successfully incorporated several young players into the Lightning lineup, as a League-high eight rookies appeared in at least 40 games -- five more than any other club. The Lightning were 20-11-9 in one-goal games after ranking last in the NHL with a 5-12-4 mark the season before, and posted 21 road wins, one shy of the franchise record.
Cooper began his NAHL coaching career with the Texarkana Bandits in the 2003-04 season. He coached in the NAHL a total of five seasons. In 2004-05 and again in 2007-08, he was honored as the NAHL Coach of the Year.
In his first three seasons in Texarkana, Cooper’s teams got better each season. By the time the franchise has moved to St. Louis in 2006-07, Cooper had developed the Bandits into a Robertson Cup contender. During the 2006-07 season, the Bandits and Cooper finally realized their dream and won the Robertson Cup. The next season, the Bandits and Cooper did it again.
Cooper’s first experience as a coach in juniors was with the Capital Centre Pride of the NAHL, where has was an assistant. At that particular time, the Pride were working closely with the Jets. It so happened that Cooper was moving to the Metro area to practice law and Capital Centre needed a new assistant coach. So the head coach of the Jets at the time, Chris Werstine, moved up to the NAHL with Capital Centre, while Cooper moved to Metro in the CSHL (now NA3HL). After Jets Owner and Governor Butch Wolfe met with Cooper, he still very much wanted to coach, so he got his first shot to be a head coach with the Jets organization. He helped the team win the Hurster Cup (now the Silver Cup) in 2002 before moving back up to the NAHL to coach the expansion Texarkana Bandits in 2003.