The Tampa Bay Lighting has been sitting on its own atop of the overall standings in the National Hockey League for the last several weeks, but now, the Nashville Predators, who many see once again reach the Stanley Cup finals, have met them there, both teams tied with 100 points. This is quite new for the Bolts, who are still proving to be a menace, especially following the blockbuster deal for star defenseman Ryan McDonagh... And speaking of new, it isn't the only thing that is unfamiliar for the Lightning on Wednesday.
For a very rare occasion that the team's practice this morning, head coach Jon Cooper was missing. The team then announced to local media that Cooper was expected to miss both today and Friday's practices. Tampa Bay faces the Boston Bruins on Saturday evening, as both teams are competing hard in the Atlantic division.
While Cooper is not slated to miss game action, it has been revealed that he is undergoing a procedure, which is causing his absence this week.
No coaches have been fired so far this season, but Cooper is not the only head coach to have to take some time off for personal reasons this week. On Monday, it was reported that Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet was granted an indefinite leave of absence to deal with a family matter. Coyotes assistant John MacLean is filling in for Tocchet on an interim basis.
Coyotes general manager and president John Chayka made a statement on the situation saying "Family comes first. Our thoughts and prayers are with Toc as he deals with this personal matter. It's important that he takes the time to be there with his family."
At this point we can only speculate, so we'll reserve any further investigation on this topic and grant Tocchet his privacy while he deals with family matters.
As for Cooper, the team has not revealed any specific detail on his situation, just that he will be missing both today and Friday's practices. The nature of the procedure he is undergoing has not been revealed either. It sounds somewhat serious, and we surely hope that everything is okay.
Since the Lightning has not announced that Cooper will miss actual time behind his players' bench, we can assume that he took opportunity of the fact that Tampa Bay has no contest in the coming days, and that his schedule allowed him to take care of himself.