Emotional Lightning coach Jon Cooper implies Avs' OT winner shouldn't have counted

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper got emotional in what was a bizarre postgame press conference following Game 4's overtime thriller.

Cooper answered just one question during his availability, meticulously choosing his words before cryptically sharing that Wednesday's loss to the Colorado Avalanche was tougher than any other his club has dealt with during its previous two runs to the Stanley Cup Final.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper got emotional in his brief press conference after Game 4.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper got emotional in his brief press conference after Game 4.

“This one is going to sting much more than others,” he said. “It’s going to be hard for me to speak. I’m going to have to speak. I’ll speak with you tomorrow... My heart breaks for the players."

Cooper added that the reporters asking him questions would shortly see what he meant and that the game should still be going, though he offered no further explanation before exiting for the dressing room. Thursday's press conference will surely be appointment viewing.

While many were left dumbfounded after the bizarre sequence, others on Twitter quickly deduced what had left Cooper with such a bitter taste in his mouth: The Avalanche scored the game-winner with too many men on the ice.

The astonishing missed call in such a crucial game left fans around the hockey world reeling.

The NHL issued a statement following the game, saying a too-many-men penalty is a judgment call from the four on-ice officials and none of them saw an infraction. The call is not subject to video review.

Ironically, this isn’t the first time that Tampa has been involved with a controversial too-many-men penalty in an important playoff game. Just over a year ago, the Bolts were on the other side of the coin as the beneficiaries of a similar non-call during their conference final series against the New York Islanders.

Nevertheless, the Avalanche’s enormous win, capped off by a storybook game-winner by Nazem Kadri in overtime, puts Colorado on the brink of capturing its first Stanley Cup since 2001.

The Avalanche will have the chance to grab that elusive and all-important 16th playoff win in front of their home fans in Denver on Friday.


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