Lightning coach Cooper credits ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ announcer Cole for inspiration

    TAMPA — Like many kids growing up in Canada, Jon Cooper idolized Bob Cole, the longtime voice of “Hockey Night in Canada.” 

    But Cooper said it was more than that. He said Cole, who died Wednesday at the age of 90, is a big reason he’s coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

    “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of Bob Cole,” Cooper said Thursday after his team’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round. “And I know it has nothing to do with this game, but it kind of does, because I’m probably not coaching in this league If it wasn’t growing up and having the passion for this game because of the voice of that man.” 

    Cooper, who was born in Prince George, British Columbia, said the love and enthusiasm Cole brought to his broadcasts during his five decades behind the microphone made him fall in the love with the game. 

    “I was a little kid and I used to go down and play hockey by myself. And it was all because of the emotion that Bob Cole brought to this game,” Cooper said. “He’s the Wayne Gretzky of announcers.”

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