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Can Jon Cooper reboot the Bolts?

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Despite the kind of star power that portends great things, the Tampa Bay Lightning face a host of problems, even after a busy summer.

On paper, it’s tough to say that the Bolts got much better this offseason, either. In the grand scheme of things, their best chance of turning things around might come down to some virtuoso work by still-new head coach Jon Cooper. So, does he have what it takes?

His resume

Cooper took over the team in late March, so he didn’t exactly get much time to handle a sulking squad; while he won his first game behind the bench, he didn’t exactly work miracles in a 5-8-3 run. Still, that amounted to little more than a dress rehearsal.

Much like his predecessor Guy Boucher, Cooper is still a fresh-faced coach, but success has followed him in his stops so far. He won a championship at both the AHL and USHL level before Bolts GM Steve Yzerman hired him to replace Boucher.

If nothing else, he’s been a smash success so far in his coaching career.

His approach

Cooper must play the right notes with a defense that looks awfully shaky beyond centerpiece Victor Hedman and 2012 acquisition Matt Carle. Goaltending remains a significant question mark, too.

It’s also worth debating whether Tampa Bay’s offense took a step back this summer, as the team most notably bought out Vincent Lecavalier while they signed Valtteri Filppula and drafted Jonathan Drouin. There’s a pretty steep drop-off from the team’s big names and their depth forwards, too, so scoring goals might be a little tougher than one might expect.

Still, if there’s one strong early sign, it’s that Cooper says he’s emphasizing structure on defense while giving his offensive stars plenty of leeway to create chances. He told the Tampa Tribune as much on March 28.

“I’m not going to go out there and teach Steven Stamkos how to do a one-timer. He’s got that one figured out,” Cooper said. “I’m not that guy that says this guy has to go here, and Marty, you have to go here.

“You get full possession of the puck … have at it, boys.”

His acting chops

It’s anyone’s guess if the 45-year-old coach will translate his success at other levels at the NHL. The roster, for one, implies that it might take a while.

If nothing else, it seems like he’ll keep the players loose, though. Puck Daddy unearthed this rather interesting testament to his sense of humor:

Sens announce Hammond will undergo season-ending hip surgery

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 5: Andrew Hammond #30 of the Ottawa Senators looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Canadian Tire Centre on April 5, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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It’s been one development after another in goal for Ottawa this season, and that narrative continued on Monday.

The Sens announced that third-stringer Andrew Hammond, who’s only appeared in six games this year, will require surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip and miss the next three months of action. It’ll be a season-ending procedure.

It’s been a tumultuous season for Hammond, to say the least.

Two years removed from being the darling of Ottawa’s miraculous playoff push, Hammond was soundly beaten out for the No. 2 gig by Mike Condon, who arrived via trade from Pittsburgh early in the season. There were minutes up for grabs after No. 1 Craig Anderson took a leave while his wife went through cancer treatment, but Hammond was unable to provide consistent netminding and, as a result, Condon got a lion’s share of the playing time.

At that point, Hammond’s future with the organization seemed in doubt. There were rumblings Ottawa was trying to trade him before waiving him in November (and again in February).

Around the same time of that second waiving, it was learned the Sens had began contract extension talks with Condon.

Hammond, 29, has one year left on the three-year, $4.05 million extension signed back in ’15. He carries a $1.35M cap hit.

 

 

 

In wake of youth hockey brawl, Peters admits he did ‘not do a good job this weekend’

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This morning on Buffalo radio, former Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters offered a mea culpa of sorts regarding his role in a youth hockey brawl on Saturday.

Peters admitted that he did “not do a good job this weekend communicating” with his team that fighting is “unacceptable” in youth sports.

“I can’t discuss anything in regard to the altercation,” Peters added, per the Buffalo News. “I have to move on from that.”

From the Associated Press’ story on the brawl:

Former NHL enforcer Andrew Peters has been suspended indefinitely as coach of a youth hockey team pending a Buffalo police investigation into his role in an on-ice brawl.

Buffalo Junior Sabres president Kevyn Adams announced the suspension Sunday, a day after the melee occurred during a game between the Peters-coached 15-and-Under team and the Ontario-based Hamilton Junior Bulldogs.

A video posted on YouTube shows the fight escalating into the Sabres’ bench, when Peters becomes involved in attempting to separate the players. At one point, the 36-year-old appears to shove a Hamilton player backward onto the ice.

According to a person familiar with the situation, Peters told Junior Sabres officials that he slipped while attempting to get one of the Hamilton players away from Buffalo’s bench. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conversation was to remain private.

Peters played 229 NHL games for the Sabres and Devils, racking up 650 PIM with just four goals and three assists.

Back-to-back hat tricks earns Forsberg first star of the week

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 17:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators celebrates a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period of Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 17, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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With back-to-back hat tricks, plus two more goals to boot, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg was today named the NHL’s first star of the week.

Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were the second and third stars, respectively.

But Forsberg was a slam dunk for the top honor. After getting off to a slow start this season, the 22-year-old winger now has 24 goals — and, more importantly, his Predators have a seven-point playoff cushion.

The Preds went 3-0-1 last week, which included back-to-back wins over two tough opponents, Washington and Edmonton, over the weekend.

With three goals Thursday against Colorado, Forsberg became the first player since Alex Burrows in 2010 to register back-to-back hat tricks.

Waiver claims: Bolts get McKegg, Jackets snag Dalpe

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 22: Shane Harper #38 celebrates his third period goal with Gregg McKegg #41 of the Florida Panthers against the Colorado Avalanche at the BB&T Center on October 22, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Avalanche 5-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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A pair of forwards were scooped off waivers on Monday morning.

The Lightning snared Greg McKegg from in-state rival Florida, while the Blue Jackets picked up journeyman Zac Dalpe from Minnesota, per ESPN.

McKegg, 24, was originally a Maple Leafs draftee (third round, ’10) that Florida acquired via trade two years ago. He appeared in 31 games for the Panthers this year, scoring six points, but also spent time with the club’s AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Dalpe, 27, has bounced around the league throughout his professional career, though he has spent the last two campaigns with the Wild organization. He’s appeared in more games for Iowa than Minnesota, scoring a goal and three points in nine NHL games this year.

There is a connection between Dalpe and Columbus. The former had a career year under Jackets head coach John Tortorella in Vancouver during the ’13-14 campaign — that season, Dalpe played 55 games and finished with four goals and seven points.