Prospect of the Week (6.12.12)

This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions.

We wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospect’s achievement on the ice.

This week’s BP Prospect of the Week award, the last of the season, goes to … Jon Cooper, Coach, Norfolk Admirals (AHL).

While not a Lightning prospect in the true definition of a Lightning prospect, Admirals Head Coach Jon Cooper is certainly an NHL prospect. His name was mentioned when the Montreal Canadiens were searching for a new bench boss and with Edmonton and Washington needing coaches, it's being mentioned again – especially after Cooper’s Admirals won the Calder Cup on Saturday afternoon. The bottom line is he’ll be in the NHL soon.

The job the reigning AHL Coach of the Year did this season was legendary. It would be hard to argue that Cooper is not as hot a young coaching prospect now than Guy Boucher was when the Lightning signed the former Hamilton Bulldog leader. The biggest difference could be that Boucher’s resume was built in hockey media-rich Canada so it was more publicized.

In fact, Cooper’s resume is more impressive.

As the Buffalo News highlighted this week, in the last nine years Cooper has four league championships in three leagues: AHL, United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League (2). He was also named Coach of the Year in all three leagues (twice in the NAHL). His record is 401-164-31, including three regular season titles. This year all he did was win 70 of 94 games (43-3 in his last 46), and break a North American pro hockey record with a 28-game regular season win streak (which is still going, incidentally).

I had the pleasure of meeting Coach Cooper at training camp in September and he couldn’t have been nicer. The quote that still sticks with me the most from my conversation with him is “winning is the best development.” Well, if an AHL coach’s job is to develop players, and he believes winning is the best development, can this year be considered more successful than it already is?

Cooper also told me, in a question related to Richard Panik, that it’s the coach’s job to find what makes individual players play their best. Everyone is different. Did anyone on the Admirals this season underperform? In short, and taking injuries out of the equation, the answer is “no.”

You really can’t ask for anything more from a prospect coach.

Previous BP Prospects of the Week:

Dustin Tokarski, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - June 5, 2012
Sebastien Piche, Charles Landry, Pat Nagle, Florida Everblades (ECHL) - June 1, 2012
Dustin Tokarski, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - May 23, 2012
Jaroslav Janus, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - May 16, 2012
Danick Gauthier, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) - May 10, 2012
Alex Killorn, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - May 2, 2012
Riku Helenius, JYP (Finland) - April 25, 2012
Cory Conacher, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - April 16, 2012
Mark Barberio, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - April 11, 2012
Tyler Johnson, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - April 4, 2012
Norfolk Admirals Hockey Club (AHL) - March 27, 2012
Richard Panik, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - March 21, 2012
Tyler Johnson, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - March 13, 2012
Danick Gauthier, Saint John (QMJHL) - March 6, 2012
Matt Peca, Quinnipiac (NCAA) - February 29, 2012
Pat Nagle, Florida (ECHL) - February 21, 2012
Alex Hutchings, Florida (ECHL) - February 14, 2012
Alex Killorn, Harvard (NCAA) - February 6, 2012
Adam Wilcox, Tri-City (USHL) and Alex Killorn, Harvard (NCAA) - January 30, 2012
Nikita Kucherov, CSKA Jr. (Russia) - January 24, 2012
Riku Helenius, JYP (Finland) - January 16, 2012
Brett Connolly, Canada (U20 WJC) - January 10, 2012
*Due to the Christmas break when few games below the NHL level were played, no POTW award was given.
Mark Barberio, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - December 19, 2011
Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights (OHL) - December 12, 2011
Tyler Johnson, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - December 5, 2011
Alex Killorn, Harvard (NCAA) - November 28, 2011
Nikita Kucherov, Team Russia/CSKA Jr. (MHL) - November 21, 2011
Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights (OHL) - November 14, 2011
Dustin Tokarski, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - November 6, 2011
Riku Helenius, JYP (Finland) - October 30, 2011
Matthew Peca, Quinnipiac Bobcats - October 23, 2011
Radko Gudas, Norfolk Admirals - October 16, 2011
Carter Ashton, Norfolk Admirals - October 9, 2011
Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning - October 2, 2011
Mattias Ritola, Tampa Bay Lightning - September 25, 2011