Jon Cooper finally gets chance to coach Team Canada

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Jon Cooper will be Team Canada’s coach in its return to best-on-best play. 

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Hockey Canada announced Tuesday that the two-time Stanley Cup winner of the Tampa Bay Lighting, from Prince George, B.C., will handle both the Four Nations Face-Off in February and get the 2026 Olympic Winter Games’ gig in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. 

Cooper, the longest-tenured active head coach in the NHL, had been chosen for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing before the NHL decided not to attend.

It has been an eight-year wait for the world’s top hockey countries to return their top players to competition. Russia remains on the sidelines with international restrictions because of its aggression in Ukraine. 

The NHL sat out the past two Olympics for a variety of reasons, while the Four Nations, with Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland, was just created this year, in part to replace the stale format of the NHL all-star game.

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Cooper previously coached at the international level in 2017, winning a silver medal for Canada at the world championship. He was selected primarily by the current management team of Doug Armstrong and Don Sweeney.  

“Jon is a world-class person, coach and leader, and his impressive resume and success in the NHL make him the perfect person to lead Team Canada over the next two years,” Armstrong said in a release. “Our management group knows that Jon will represent our country with pride while bringing his winning pedigree to the international stage.

“We look forward to working with him as we build teams with the best NHL players in Canada at two marquee events.” 

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Cooper recently completed his 12th season in Tampa Bay and is the franchise’s all-time leader in regular-season games coached (879), wins (480), playoff-games coached (139) and playoff wins (84) that are part of 10 post-season appearances and four Stanley Cup finals. He was an assistant with Team North America at the 2016 World Cup Hockey.

The first six players for each country in the Four Nations, to be played Feb. 12-20 in Montreal and Boston, are expected to be announced later this week. 

X: @sunhornby 

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