TAMPA, Fla. -- He had 16 games behind the bench to finish last season, but Jon Cooper opened his first training camp as the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.
Cooper, who joined the Lightning from the club's American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, went 5-8-3 with a team hurt by injuries and which finished 14th in the Eastern Conference, but there is no discounting how much that brief spell leading the team has proved invaluable for him.
"Just getting to know the landscape helped," Cooper said. "The travel, the day-to-day operation, everything that goes on in the League, meeting the media on a daily basis, just things that you don't plan for to take up your time and all of a sudden your day is gone and you don't know what happened with it. That was big for me in the month I was here.
"The second big thing was getting the relationship with the players, being able to find out, in anticipation of this year, who could play where. Moving in, I just have a better grasp on the team."