Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, top, talks with defenseman Andrej Sustr (62), during a timeout in an NHL hockey game on Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Washington. What's the secret to Jon Cooper's calm demeanour behind the Tampa Bay Lightning bench? Apparently chewing gum. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Alex Brandon
TAMPA, Fla. - What's the secret to Jon Cooper's calm demeanour behind the Tampa Bay Lightning bench? Apparently chewing gum.
Cooper started the tradition of chewing gum when he got into coaching and it has become a habit or superstition ever since.
"One piece goes in at the beginning and it stays in the rest of the game," he said. "It doesn't come out."
Cooper, a Prince George, B.C., native, is in his first full NHL season. He won championships in the AHL and USHL previously. Before that, he was a lawyer.
Gum-chewing isn't something he studies, but it's part of his routine.
"I don't watch myself on the bench so I don't know how hard I chew it," he said. "Apparently I do chew it pretty hard."
Given how close the Lightning and Montreal Canadiens have played each other this season and then into overtime in Game 1—with the Habs winning the playoff opener 5-4—that can become more of a chore than anyone would expect.
"By the time you get deep into overtimes, it's a tough one to chew," Cooper said.