The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks will play each other in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Being that I’m from New Jersey, and had never been to a “Bolts” game before, I found it pretty cool and ironic that I actually got to see these teams face-off against each other in Tampa, Florida back in March.
I can remember thinking with a long time friend of mine, as we luckily managed to get tickets for a sold out game that night, “We had to go to this game, and that we could also potentially be witnessing a Cup Final preview.”
Earlier today was the NHL’s Media Day for the two organizations, where the Lighting and Blackhawks’ players and coaches were all interviewed. What I found very intriguing was what Tampa’s captain Steven Stamkos had to say about their head coach, Jon Cooper.
Please go to the 18-minute mark in the video below; Stamkos proceeded to explain Cooper’s coaching style and the type of relationship he’s established with his players; and why that’s a big reason they’ve been so successful. And, how Cooper is, “A student of the game…”
— Kyle McKenna (@KMcKenna_tLT5) June 2, 2015
What Stamkos had to say about his coach during that interview reminded me exactly of an old friend and coach, Derek Percy. He was the kind of guy and coach who didn’t come into a hockey locker room screaming and demanding for respect, but gained respect by how he strategically challenged his players and picked his “student’s” brains.
Like Cooper, I strongly feel like that’s why coach Derek was so respected by his players, especially myself, and a newer “younger” generation of hockey players.
Like Cooper and Stamkos, Derek and I too were a coach and captain tandem, who were “students of the game,” with a mutual uncanny respect for one another.
Here’s my piece and perspective from a few months ago, about Derek and I titled “Student Of The Game.”