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Cooper, Gallant, Laviolette, Trotz named coaches for NHL All-Star Game

Will guide respective divisions at 3-on-3 tournament in Tampa on Jan. 28

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic), Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights (Pacific), Peter Laviolette of the Nashville Predators (Central) and Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals (Metropolitan) will coach their respective divisions at the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Jan. 28 (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Their teams have the highest points percentages (points earned divided by total possible points) in their respective divisions through Jan. 6, the halfway point of the regular season.

This will be the first All-Star Game for Cooper. In his sixth NHL season, all with the Lightning, the 50-year-old has Tampa Bay in first place in the League standings with a 29-9-3 record and 61 points (.744 points percentage).

"Any time someone here gets an award or gets recognized for something, we know it is a team honor," Cooper said Sunday before the Lighting played the Detroit Red Wings."It is a great honor that I'll be behind the bench, but it could be our special-teams coach or our goalie coach or our players. They are the one who made this happen."

Gallant, 54, will be coaching in his second All-Star Game in his seven NHL seasons. He coached the Atlantic Division at the 2016 game in Nashville while with the Florida Panthers.

Video: Gerard Gallant on All-Star Weekend and Vegas' success

In their inaugural season, the Golden Knights are in first place in the Western Conference with a 28-10-2 record and 58 points (.725 points percentage). Since the NHL's initial expansion in 1967-68, two teams have had more wins in their first full season. The Florida Panthers and the Anaheim Ducks each had 33 in 1993-94, when the NHL played an 84-game schedule.

"Obviously, the guys have worked hard all year," Gallant said before the Golden Knights' game against the New York Rangers at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday (9:30 p.m. ET; ATTSN-RM, MSG+, NHL.TV). "You look at our team, we're in a good place right now. For us to get an opportunity to coach at the All-Star Game, it's a great honor for our organization. It's not about me, it's about the guys in the room that work hard every day."

Laviolette, 53, will makes his second All-Star Game appearance in his 16 seasons in the NHL. He coached Team Toews at the 2015 game in Columbus.

"It's a great event," Laviolette said. "It's exciting and fun to be a part of. Really I think for a coach, it's just a reflection of your organization, a reflection of your team, your players, equipment staff, trainers, management, coaches. I get to go. I represent a big group, so I'm pretty honored to do that."

The Predators are 24-11-6 with 54 points, one point behind the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division, but have a higher points percentage than the Jets (.659 to .655).


[RELATED: Stamkos, McDavid, Subban, Ovechkin named All-Star captains]


This will be the third All-Star Game for Trotz in his 19 NHL seasons. He coached the Metropolitan Division at the 2016 game in Nashville and was an assistant for the Western Conference (under Randy Carlyle of the Anaheim Ducks) for the 2006 game in Dallas when he was coaching the Predators.

"It's always an honor to be selected, but let's get this right: I'm going there to represent the Washington Capitals staff and the players," Trotz said. "They're the ones who got it done, and I'm the one that gets to go and represent them. So I want to really thank them because as a group they started out every year a new adventure and this one at this point in time put us in position for somebody to represent them, which is great."

Trotz, 55, moved into fifth place in NHL history with his 737th win against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 30, but wasn't expecting to go the All-Star Game two months ago. After winning the Presidents' Trophy the past two seasons, the Capitals got off to a slow start, going 5-6-1 in October. They have rebounded since then to move into first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 25-13-3 record and 53 points (.646 points percentage). They are 15-4-2 in their past 21 games.

"If you would have asked me after about the first five or six games of the year, [with] the way we started and all that, I didn't think [coaching in the All-Star Game] would be on the horizon," he said.

Video: Barry Trotz on coaching the Metropolitan All-Stars

For the third straight season, the All-Star Game will feature a three-game tournament, played in a 3-on-3 format, showcasing teams from each NHL division. Each of the four teams will include six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (Pacific), Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (Metropolitan), Lightning center Steven Stamkos (Atlantic) and Predators defenseman P.K Subban (Central) were voted by the fans as the four division captains for the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. The remainder of the rosters will be determined by the NHL Hockey Operations Department and announced Wednesday.

Cooper said he's happy that the game will be played in his home arena. 

"That means a lot to me," Cooper said. "I was just talking to Gerard Gallant, and I told him to enjoy his four-hour flight while I'm making my four-minute drive."

The 2018 NHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place on Jan. 27 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

-- Correspondents Danny Webster, Robby Stanley and Dave Hogg contributed to this story. 

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