The Tampa Bay Lightning have hired Jon Cooper to be the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals today, Admirals general manager Julien BriseBois announced. Cooper joins the Admirals from the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League.
“We are pleased to announce Jon as the head coach of the Admirals today,” BriseBois said upon making the announcement. “He has excelled at a championship level in each location he has coached and we are happy he elected to continue his career in the Lightning organization. Jon is a perfect fit as we strive to restore a winning culture for our players and the fans in Norfolk.”
Cooper, a native of Prince George, British Columbia, has spent the previous two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, posting an 84-27-9 record. He also led the Gamblers to two Anderson Cups, awarded to the USHL regular season champions, and one Clark Cup, given to the playoff champions.
“I am honored and humbled to be offered this great opportunity with organizations led by first class individuals such as Jeff Vinik, Ken Young, Steve Yzerman, Julien BriseBois and Guy Boucher,” Cooper said. “With strong leadership from the ownership level down through both franchises, everyone is working towards making the Lightning and the Admirals an organization to be proud of and I’m honored that they’ve asked me to be part of it.”
During his first season behind the bench in Green Bay, Cooper helped lead the biggest one-year improvement in USHL history after the Gamblers went from 32 points in 2007-08 to 82 points and the USHL’s best record in 2008-09. Cooper was recognized for his efforts following the 2008-09 season, being named the 2009 USHL General Manager of the Year.
Last season Cooper led Green Bay to its second consecutive Anderson Cup as well as the Clark Cup Championship, the team’s first since 2000. He guided the team to a 45-10-5 record, the best in Gamblers’ 16-year franchise history. Cooper was also awarded the USHL Coach and General Manager of the Year honors.
Before joining Green Bay, Cooper served as the general manager and head coach of the St. Louis Bandits of the North American Hockey League. While in St. Louis he led the Bandits to two consecutive Robertson Cup Championships (2007, 2008). Cooper was named the NAHL Coach of the year during the 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons while compiling a 223-93-17 regular and postseason record in five seasons with the Bandits organization.
Cooper has also spent time behind the bench internationally, most recently serving as the assistant coach for the USA U-18 team that competed in the 2008 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia and Czech Republic. He won a silver medal as head coach of the USA U-17 team that participated in the 2007 Five Nation’s Tournament in the Czech Republic. Cooper was named a finalist for the 2007 United States Olympic Committee’s Development Coach of the Year.
Both an American and Canadian citizen, Cooper played hockey at Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, before moving on to Hofstra University. While at Hofstra Cooper played hockey and lacrosse while earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He went on to obtain his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Cooper closed his law practice in 2003 to focus on his coaching career.