The topic of coaching changes comes up often in Buffalo considering the long run of Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. One of the most-used defenses of the pro-Ruff camp is: "Well, if you get rid of him, who else is out there?"
Jon Cooper continued his run toward an NHL job over the weekend.
Cooper added yet another championship to his overflowing resume as the Norfolk Admirals won the Calder Cup as the AHL's best team. Norfolk, led by former Canisius star Cory Conacher (who is profiled in The News today), swept the Toronto Marlies to cap a dream season.
The Admirals closed the regular season with a North American record of 28 straight victories. They finished 55-18-1-2 and outscored opponents, 273-180. The numbers for Cooper are even more impressive:
*He has a record of 401-164-38 over the last nine seasons.
*He has four championships, plus three regular-season titles.
*He has been named Coach of the Year in the AHL, the United States Hockey League and the North American Hockey League.
*He is 94-44-10-8 during his two AHL seasons.
*Prior to leading Norfolk, Cooper went 84-27-9 with Green Bay of the USHL. The Gamblers had just 32 points the year before Cooper took over, and he led the greatest turnaround in league history by guiding them to 82 points and the first of two straight regular-season championships.
*In five seasons as the general manager and coach of the St. Louis Bandits of the NAHL, Cooper went 223-93-17. He led the Bandits to two titles and was named NAHL Coach of the Year in 2005-06 and 2007-08.
"This coach here is a players coach," Conacher said. "That definitely helps. It makes things more comfortable for us players. He has a great relationship with all the players, both with the team and individually. That really helps. He gives us the time off when we need it, and we do team events. We’ve gone fishing and gone to baseball games and all that stuff as a team, and that’s important for bonding."