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Stamkos talks not affected by Cooper extension

NHL.com @NHL

The signing of Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper to a multiyear contract extension, announced Friday, will have no effect on their negotiations with captain Steven Stamkos, general manager Steve Yzerman said.

"One has nothing to do with the other," Yzerman said in remarks after announcing Cooper's contract.

Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday he was "Happy for [Jon]. He's had tremendous success in the League as a coach so far."

Stamkos can become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Yzerman has said getting Stamkos signed to a long-term contract was his top priority.

Stamkos has said facing questions about his contract status has not been a problem.

"To be honest, it hasn't been that bad," Stamkos told Yahoo Sports this week. "Obviously this is the first time I've gone through something like this, but it hasn't been as bad as I thought maybe coming into the year. It has been something that, for me, has been quite easy to come to the rink and not worry about it and not think about it. It's really something that hasn't bothered me."

Before the season, Stamkos said there were discussions among him, his agent Don Meehan, and Yzerman, but they agreed to keep them private until there was something to reveal publicly.

"For me it's been easy. It's been the same answer every time," Stamkos told the website. "I think with the relationship my agency and Steve Yzerman have, and how we've agreed to keep everything between us, there really hasn't been much to talk about."

Stamkos is playing the final season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract he signed after spending 18 days as a restricted free agent in July 2011.

During All-Star Weekend last January, Stamkos told the Toronto Sun he could envision a contract similar to the eight-year, $84 million extensions Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews signed with the Chicago Blackhawks. Those contracts, which began this season, have an average annual value of $10.5 million.

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby signed a 12-year, $104.4 million extension prior to the final year of his contract in June 2012 (an AAV of $8.7 million).

Stamkos was second in the NHL last season with 43 goals in 82 games, and he had seven goals and 11 assists in 26 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He did not score a goal in six games during the Stanley Cup Final loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Lightning are 12-11-3 this season, sixth in the Atlantic Division entering their game at the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Stamkos has 11 goals and eight assists; he's on pace for 60 points.

"I haven't really been asked about [the contract] much, whether we're not playing well, it just hasn't been a lot," he said.

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