Hearsay: Lightning’s Cooper stays realistic

The Lightning named Jon Cooper as the new head coach in Tampa Bay on March 25, 2013.
September 2, 2013, 11:23 PM

Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.

COOPER KNOWS LIGHTNING MUST EARN RESPECT

Lightning coach Jon Cooper reflects with The Tampa Tribune on preseason publications predicting his team will finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference again.

“Here’s my thing,” Cooper said. “Would I personally rather be the team everybody is picking first? I would. Because when everyone is picking you first, you’ve earned your right to be there, everybody knows you’re good. There’s that aura about you.

“But am I uncomfortable that people are picking us 13th or 14th, or seventh or eighth in our division? Not at all. We just came in 28th. How can you pick us any higher? We brought in one player. It’s not like people are snubbing us. Hopefully, a year from now, we won’t be picked in that spot and we’ll have shown progress.”

On Vincent Lecavalier, who was bought out this summer: “I got to enjoy Vinny in the short time he was here. I was sad to see him go. Again, what he did for this team, this community, this franchise, you can’t put words to what he’s done. In saying that, he’s a casualty of a contract, a cap casualty. There are a lot of people who say we gave up on Vinny. We didn’t. It was strictly a business decision. For the benefit of the organization and moving forward, we had to get rid of his contract.”

HAWKS’ CRAWFORD BRUSHES OFF PRESSURE

Following Corey Crawford’s new six-year, $36 million pact with the Blackhawks, CSNChicago.com details how even if others heap extra pressure on Crawford now, he won’t be doing the same.

“I don’t think (the mindset) changes at all. Every year the goal is to win. It was fun to win last year and have a fun summer with (the Cup) and obviously have my Cup day today and do all that. But at one point you shut it off and start all over again,” Crawford said. “Obviously (the contract) is a reward for the hard work. It’s more the confidence the team has in me to try and repeat and go for more championships in the future. That’s the way I look at it. I’m not going to put more pressure on myself. I don’t want to add extra to what it means.”

Crawford is focused on enjoying, for at least a few more days, everything that’s happened over this past season.

“It’s just getting better and better,” he said. “I’m on a bit of a high right now; hopefully I don’t come down from it. It’s just been amazing. I said it before: at one point, I have to shut it all off and go back to work. I’m looking forward to that, too.”

SENS’ STONE OVERCOMING SKATING SHORTCOMINGS

Senators prospect Mark Stone tells The Ottawa Citizen his ankle sprain recovery has been coming along nicely after a slow start and he feels like he’s skating better than he did at the end of last season.

Though he has doggedly worked to improve it over the last five seasons, and has, he still needs to be quicker in an NHL that is getting faster by the day. Stone knows this, though he believes his offensive abilities make up for any skating deficiencies.

“Obviously the question marks have been about me getting quicker, but I feel like I have a lot of tools to overcome that,” he said. “I understand the game pretty well and I’m good with my stick. I find I have qualities to make up for (my skating) that some guys may not have.

“I’m not the most fluid skater, but I have improved quite a bit over the last four, five seasons, and I know I can overcome my skating issues.”

He feels like he’s close.

“I know I’m knocking on the door. It’s just a matter of me putting together some consistent hockey and showing I can play at this level for an 82-game season.”

WHAT THEY’RE TWEETING ABOUT

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