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At the Rink blog

Lightning vs. Panthers reunites Cooper, Dineen

Thursday, 10.10.2013 / 12:55 PM

By Lonnie Herman - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Lightning vs. Panthers reunites Cooper, Dineen

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning open their home season Thursday after playing their first three games on the road. The Lightning (2-1-0) host a team probably as road-weary as they are in the Florida Panthers. Florida (1-2-0) has yet to see its home ice, and this will be the fourth consecutive road game for the club.

The matchup reunites two friendly rivals from their American Hockey League days: Jon Cooper, in his first full season as coach of the Lightning, and Kevin Dineen, beginning his third season behind the bench for the Panthers.

"We have mutual friends," Cooper said, "and before we got to know each other, he was coaching in Portland and I was coaching in Norfolk and we were going to meet after a game and they had a 3-0 lead on us and we stormed back in the third to eventually win in overtime and we had to walk across the ice and I remember we were going to meet on the ice and then I thought, nah, and I just let him go. We met an hour later.

"He's a really competitive guy and above his competitiveness he's a great guy and I got a lot of time for him. We have kind of an inter-rivalry dating back to the AHL, but it will never come to a problem. I enjoy his company, and I'll enjoy it more when we beat him tonight."

For his part, Dineen agreed.

"I'm not surprised to see Coop in the NHL," he said. "He's a guy I have a lot of respect for. Of course you root for individuals, but when it comes match-to-match, you're looking to give him a good tail-kicking."

Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com