Lightning could be nearing extension with head coach Jon Cooper

During Saturday Headlines, the panel discussed Dustin Byfuglien’s injury, the comments made by Jim Lites and Jon Cooper nearing an extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been the envy of the league when it comes to locking up their biggest stars with deals that benefit both team and player.

Their next big free agent-to-be, however, doesn’t sit on the bench but rather stands behind it.

Almost halfway through another successful season in Tampa Bay, head coach Jon Cooper is still without a contract beyond 2018-19. According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, that could soon change.

“There’s been some thought that perhaps the Lightning management would want to wait and see how things play out in the playoffs with how many near misses they’ve had in the past but it does sound as though there’s been some progress in talks on an extension for him,” Johnston said during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “Julien BriseBois, the Lightning GM, spoke to a few reporters today and indicated or seemed to indicate that something could be coming soon in terms of an extension on his head coach.”

Cooper, 51, took over Tampa Bay in March 2013 and has an overall record of 272-150-42 as the Lightning’s head coach. He has guided the club to the playoffs in all but one season since, making it to the Stanley Cup Final once (2014-15) and losing in the Conference Final twice (2015-16, 2017-18).

Cooper’s current salary isn’t documented — coach salaries often are not. Generally, coaching salaries are still kept under lock and key, with only the length of contracts being released by teams — if anything is released at all.

Though Barry Trotz’s salary was (unsurprisingly) not released when he joined the New York Islanders this past summer, David Quinn’s $2.4-million annual salary (Rangers) and Claude Julien’s $5-million paycheque (Canadiens) suggest an upwards trend when it comes to investing behind the bench. Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock remains the league’s highest-paid bench boss, earning $6.25 million per year according to CapFriendly.

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