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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

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals