Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper laughs when he is asked whether he sees the Lightning influence that coach Derek Lalonde brought to today’s Detroit Red Wings.
“(Lalonde) would be upset if I called him the Baby Bulls,” Cooper told Detroit Hockey Now. “But he’s brought much of our influence to Detroit. Now in saying that, Derek had a lot to do with that influence. It wasn’t just a Jon Cooper thing. It was Derek Lalonde, Jeff Halpern, Rob Zettler – it was the whole crew.”
Seeing Red Wings playing Tampa Bay systems makes perfect sense to Cooper, considering the Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups. They came close to a third.
“We had a lot of success with it,” Cooper said. “To me, he would be remiss if he didn’t bring something.”
We hear from coach Derek Lalonde after his Red Wings take care of the Lightning again Wednesday, 7-4. LGRW pic.twitter.com/Yq0vWPDfLa
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) December 22, 2022
But it isn’t an exact copy.
“There are tweaks – you can tell,” Cooper said. “There is a little Bob Boughner influence in there and Alex Tanguay. They have taken a blueprint and tweaked their own way and we have tweaked it our way. But I would say their solid base is very familiar to us.”
Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said recently that the Red Wings saw plenty of Lightning video in training camp. Not so much anymore because the Red Wings mostly watch their own play.
“That’s always the case,” Cooper said, laughing again. “…he’s not bringing in his Iowa Wild video.”
Cooper clearly has much respect for Lalonde. “Derek was a really important part of us winning two Stanley Cups and going to a third final,” Lalonde said. “He deserves an opportunity. But there’s a formula there and he’s rolling with it.”
One of Detroit’s major accomplishments this season is the fact they have defeated the Lightning twice.
“He’s an outstanding communicator,” Cooper said. “Players will know where they stand. He won’t pull any punches on guys. He’s not going to play mind games. He’s not going to do any of that stuff… He will make guys feel comfortable and also hold them accountable. Communication is a big thing.”
The Lalonde-Cooper friendship will continue. When Lightning were in Detroit, Cooper said Lalonde was mockingly annoyed with him because he hadn’t yet found time for a chat.
“It’s a matter of am I going to his office or is he coming to mind,” Cooper said. “We always spend a couple of minutes together.”