After another year of extinguishing a red-hot Islanders team en route to a Stanley Cup victory, Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach and Hofstra alum Jon Cooper has his name in conversations with some of the all-time greats.
Cooper, who graduated from Hofstra in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an exceptional tenure with the school’s lacrosse team, led the Lightning to their second consecutive Stanley Cup victory with a 4-1 series win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Prior to their victory against Montreal, the Lightning defeated the Islanders in a back-and-forth series that went a full seven games. One year ago, the Lightning bounced the Islanders in six games with a 2-1 overtime victory that propelled them to the finals.
The Lightning were just the second team to repeat as champions in the National Hockey League’s salary cap era, which began in 2005-06, and the 17th team in league history to do so. In a season initially delayed by the coronavirus, the team’s 36 regular-season wins were the lowest under Cooper’s eight-year tenure with the team.
With uncertainty surrounding whether or not the team would stay intact after the offseason, Cooper applauded his group for being able to block out the chatter and focus on winning a second consecutive championship.
“This was the end of a special group for two years,” Cooper said in a postgame interview with SportsNet. “To be a part of this, and be able to do it two years in a row… it kind of cements this group.”
This year was also Cooper’s third Stanley Cup Final appearance as head coach of the Lightning after losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in 2015.
The British Columbia native scored goals of his own for the then-Flying Dutchmen of Hofstra on grass rather than ice for the men’s lacrosse team.
During his four-year letterman tenure for the team, Cooper racked up 74 goals and 25 assists, finishing fifth in all-time goals scored, and ninth in all-time points, 99, in the university’s history. Cooper was also a member of the 1988 and 1989 East Coast Conference championship teams.
Despite coaching one of the best teams in the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference over the past seven years, Cooper has acknowledged some of his alma mater’s athletic feats, such as when the Hofstra men’s basketball team had the nation’s longest active winning streak in 2019.
“Hey, I graduated there. I’m a proud alum. I do have a lot of things on my mind, but I do follow,” Cooper told Newsday in January 2019.