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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Tampa Bay Lightning

Bolts' Cooper doesn’t let mistakes linger

OTTAWA — When one falls off that metaphorical saddle, one must get back up and ride again.

That’s precisely the philosophy for Lightning coach Jon Cooper and his staff, with the saddle being a costly mistake and ice time being the ride he wants players to get back on again.

“You don’t want to sit here and say, ‘Go get to the end of the bench’ and have a pity party for him,” Cooper said. “‘Get back out there and help try to get us that goal back.’ That’s how we do things. You can’t hang your head about this.’’

That response came after the defensive-zone turnover committed by Radko Gudas late in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss in Toronto. Gudas tried to spin and send a pass to defensive partner Matt Carle, but he was stripped of the puck by Tyler Bozak. The turnover led to James van Riemsdyk’s wining goal seconds later.

But instead of the old-school approach of getting into a player’s face and putting him on the bench, Cooper or an assistant offers a quick word and throws him right back on the ice. That’s exactly what happened on Tuesday, as Gudas was on the ice for the faceoff after Toronto’s go-ahead goal.

“When mistakes like that happen, your confidence goes down and he’s like, ‘Don’t worry about it. Play your game and you’re back out there,’ ” Gudas said.

“It’s obviously a big confidence-builder. It gets you right back up.’’

The same approach happened earlier in the game. Trying to get the puck into the offensive zone, defenseman Mark Barberio’s pass was intercepted by Toronto center Nazem Kadri just outside the blue line. Kadri raced into the Lightning zone and fired a long wrist shot over the shoulder of goaltender Ben Bishop for a 1-0 lead early in the second period.

Instead of allowing Barberio to dwell on the play, Cooper had him on the ice for the faceoff.

“When mistakes happen out there, sometimes players tend to get down on themselves,” Barberio said. “And for a coach to get down on you, too, maybe it snowballs.

“But when you have a coach that just wants you to forget about it, wants you to move on and you know that he’s going to put you back out there, you play a little more confident.’’

That’s a far cry from those times where mistakes are costly and the offending player is put in a “timeout’’ situation at the end of the bench for an extended period of time.

Barberio experienced that while playing junior hockey in the Super Series that pitted top players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League against those from Russia. He made two mistakes in the opening period that led to goals for Russia, then didn’t see the ice the rest of the period.

“You’re sitting there and just dwelling on what you did wrong,” Barberio said. “Whereas, if you go back out there, you almost sometimes don’t have time to think about it because you are playing right away and you have to go back to making decisions again.

“So, I think when you are being sat for a mistake or something like that, you tend to just think about that and negative thoughts start to creep in. So, it’s hard to stay in the game at that point.’’

That’s a big reason Cooper likes to get players right back out on the ice. He doesn’t want them to lose confidence or show that the coaching staff has lost confidence.

It also gives the player a chance to atone for the mistake, as Barberio did on Tuesday when he scored the second goal to help Tampa Bay erase a 2-0 deficit.

“Our thing is, ‘Hey, get back out there,’ ” Cooper said. “If you do the same mistakes on a consistent basis, well, then we have to sit down and have a little talk about this. But our guys play hard. The odd mistakes they do make, they make them by commission and they are working out there.

“We have anywhere from eight to 10 rookies play every night, and they are going to make mistakes. So, sometimes you have to live with them. There have been a lot more good than bad for us.’’

Yzerman honored

Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman was among three people named to the Order of Hockey in Canada for his accomplishments, which include winning gold medals for Team Canada as a player in the 2002 Olympics and as executive director for the 2010 Games. Yzerman is also executive director for the 2014 team that will participate in the Olympics next month in Russia. Yzerman will be honored at a ceremony in June.


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