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What to Expect from Jon Cooper

I was hoping I’d get to write this.

“#TampaCuse” went on steroids Monday as Tampa Bay announced that Syracuse coach Jon Cooper is joining his 10 former students with the Lightning as head coach.

Cooper’s story is well documented. He was a practicing lawyer who had a dream to be a hockey coach and then went out and won a billion games and a handful of championships.

Lightning Name Jon Cooper 8th Head Coach in Franchise History

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning named Jon Cooper the eighth head coach in franchise history today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. Cooper joins the Lightning after having spent the previous three seasons behind the bench of Tampa Bay’s top minor league affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals from 2010-12 and this season with the Syracuse Crunch, compiling a 133-62-26 (.661) record in 221 AHL games. Cooper will coach his first game for the Lightning on Friday night versus the New Jersey Devils. Effective immediately, Syracuse assistant Rob Zettler takes over as the head coach of the Crunch while Martin Raymond will join Zettler as an assistant. Dan Lacroix and Steve Thomas will remain behind the bench for tomorrow night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, then continuing as Cooper’s assistants with the Lightning.

“We are very pleased to introduce Jon as our head coach today,” Yzerman said. “He has had success at every level he has coached and is extremely familiar with our organization, as well as our players. He has a tremendous record at all levels and we feel he is ready to make the move to the NHL.”

“There is no other team in hockey that I would rather be coaching than the Tampa Bay Lightning,” said Cooper upon accepting the position. “It’s quite a tribute to Steve Yzerman, Jeff Vinik and the organization they are building that they are proud to promote from within. I look forward to getting to know the players and getting to work right away.”

Report: It's Cooper

Although nothing has officially been announced, CBC's Elliotte Friedman reports Syracuse Crunch coach Jon Cooper will be named the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Cooper's Crunch assistant coach, former NHLer Rob Zettler, will take over the Syracuse bench.

TSN's Darren Dreger tweeted the Cooper news at the same relative time, indicating it's more than just a rumor.

Cooper led the Norfolk Admirals to the AHL's Calder Cup title last year, one year after leading them to the playoffs as a rookie AHL head coach. This year he has his team at the top of the AHL's Eastern Conference standings despite 10 of his players playing in Tampa at the moment.

Stay tuned.

NCAA Game Night: 3-24-13

While there were no Lightning NCAA prospects in action on Sunday, the 2013 NCAA tournament field was set and involved four Tampa Bay draft picks:

Quinnipiac (Matt Peca) earned the top overall seed and will play 16-seed Canisius College in the East Region's first round. Of course, Canisius is the alma mater of current Lightning rookie, Cory Conacher.

Minnesota (Adam Wilcox) got the second overall seed and plays 15th-seeded Yale in the first round in the West.

Miami (Jimmy Mullin) is the 5-seed and will play 11-seed Minnesota State in the Midwest.

North Dakota (Brendan O'Donnell) is No. 8 in the tournament and will face off against 10-seed Niagara in the first round of the West. The winner will play the Minnesota-Yale winner.

Left out of the tournament is Luke Witkowski and Western Michigan, who had a fine season but were beat out of the CCHA tournament early by Michigan. Notre Dame and Canisius making the tournament knocked them out as an at-large. That means Witkowski is available to sign his pro contract with the Lightning, something Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman has said he interested in doing. Witkowski's defense partner, Danny DeKeyser, is the NCAA's top available free agent and is reportedly traveling to Toronto on Tuesday to meet with potential suitors. The Lightning were a supposed finalist for his services last year before he decided to go back to school. The Red Wings are considered the favorite to land DeKeyser, with the Ducks and Oilers also making strong pushes. Expect the Lightning to be involved also, but it's unclear if the signing of Andrej Sustr and the firing of Guy Boucher will affect things.

Witkowski could join the Syracuse Crunch upon his signing.

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