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Lightning’s Cooper to coach Canada in Olympics

CALGARY, Alberta — If NHL players are part of next year’s Beijing Olympics, Canada will have a two-time Stanley Cup champion behind its bench.

Hockey Canada has announced Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper as the head of its provisional Olympic coaching staff. Three NHL head coaches — Boston’s Bruce Cassidy, Vegas’ Peter DeBoer and the New York Islanders’ Barry Trotz were named assistants.

Cooper, who is from Prince George, British Columbia, led the Lightning to their second straight Stanley Cup title last month when they defeated the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

He previously served as head coach of Team Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Championship, winning a silver medal. He was an assistant coach with Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

NHL players were not part of the 2018 Pyeongchang Games after taking part in five straight Olympics.

Canada won gold in three of those, with Pat Quinn leading the team to the title in 2002 at Salt Lake City and Mike Babcock doing the same in 2010 at Vancouver and in 2014 at Sochi. Canada took bronze in Pyeongchang under coach Willie Desjardins.

The schedule for the upcoming NHL season leaves room for an Olympic break, but the league says no decision has been made on whether players will compete.

The NHL has agreed to pause play between Feb. 7 and 22 in 2022, but notes talks are ongoing between the NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation. The league has said if players don’t participate, a revised schedule will be released.

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