Jon Cooper starstruck by being Adams finalist

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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper had a tremendous season leading the team to the playoffs.

After navigating the drama of Steven Stamkos’ broken leg and Martin St. Louis’ demand to be traded, he was recognized for his efforts and named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year.

As Cooper tells Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, he’s a bit starstruck by who he’s up against for the award.

“My name is being thrown around with Patrick Roy, he’s still a Hall of Fame goaltender in this league, and Mike Babcock, who is probably eventually going to be a Hall of Fame coach in the league,” Cooper said. “So it’s one of those, ‘Which name is not like the other?’ That’s kind of what I am.”

The former lawyer turned hockey coach may not think he belongs in the conversation with Roy and Babcock, but Cooper’s efforts in getting the Lightning to the postseason demanded that he be put in the limelight amongst coaches.

In his first full season in Tampa, Cooper led the team to a 46-27-9 record and a second place finish in the Atlantic Division before ultimately getting swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Montreal Canadiens.

When it’s all said and done on the 24th at the NHL Awards, it may be Babcock and Roy who have the glowing words about Cooper.