After posting a stunning 84-27-9 record, winning two Anderson Cups and one Clark Cup with the Green Bay Gamblers over two seasons, Jon Cooper is leaving the Gamblers to become the head coach of the American Hockey League's Norfolk Admirals – the top minor league affiliate for the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.
Cooper, who led the Metro Jets to the 2002 Silver Cup Junior B national championship, is the first coach to jump from the USHL to a head coaching job in the AHL.
"What Jon did here in just two seasons was amazing," said Gamblers president Brendan Bruss. "Clearly his success with the Gamblers has afforded him this incredible opportunity in the AHL and we wish him nothing but the best."
During his two seasons with the Gamblers, Cooper had a .738 winning percentage and had an overall record, including playoffs, of 97-33-9. He guided the Gamblers to the largest one-season turnaround in USHL history in 2008-09 as the team finished with a 39-17-4 record, improving 50 points in the standings over the previous season. He was named USHL General Manager of the Year in each of his two seasons and was honored as the USHL Coach of the Year for 2009-10. Cooper also led the Gamblers to team records of 45 wins and 95 points this past season and their first Clark Cup title in 10 years.
"I am honored and humbled to be offered this great opportunity with organizations led by first class individuals such as Jeff Vinik, Ken Young, Steve Yzerman, Julien BriseBois and Guy Boucher," Cooper said. "With strong leadership from the ownership level down through both franchises, everyone is working towards making the Lightning and the Admirals an organization to be proud of and I'm honored that they've asked me to be part of it."
"We are pleased to announce Jon as the head coach of the Admirals today," said Norfolk Admirals general manager Julien BriseBois. "He has excelled at a championship level in each location he has coached and we are happy he elected to continue his career in the Lightning organization. Jon is a perfect fit as we strive to restore a winning culture for our players and the fans in Norfolk."
Photo courtesy USHL Images