Jon, meet Bruce
The two most-talked-about coaches in Tampa Bay were in the same room Saturday.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper and new Bucs coach Bruce Arians met before the game against the Penguins at Amalie Arena. The Lightning presented Arians with a personalized jersey in the new alternate black and gray.
“He’s got that old-school passion,” Cooper said of Arians. “That’s probably what kept him around the game so long and why he’s had so much success. In meeting him, I know the Bucs are in good hands.”
The two had never met, but Cooper had read about Arians. Cooper is good friends with Bucs general manager Jason Licht and was sure Arians would make a good hire.
Arians, 66, is a big hockey fan. A native of Paterson, N.J., he grew up a fan of the Flyers in the Broad Street Bullies days.
“The game’s so fast,” he said on Fox Sports Sun during an intermission interview. “There’s so much skill involved. It’s one of my favorite sports.” The Bucs coach was recognized on the video board and greeted by a loud cheer from the fans. He also milled about with fans on the concourse.
Arians has connections to at least one other coach with Tampa Bay ties. Former Rays manager Joe Maddon helped recruit him to the area.