‘We’re Going to Miss That Smile’: Cooper, Maroon Enter Game 3 With Heavy Hearts

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Over the past decade, you’ve probably come to realize that Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper doesn’t often struggle to find the right words. But on Thursday night, he did. He struggled with a lot of things, not the least of which were his emotions. Grief will do that to a person.

And Jon Cooper is grieving. Heavily. So is one of his players, Lightning veteran Pat Maroon. That’s because they learned Thursday morning that the night before, just a few hours before Cooper’s triple fist pump celebrating Nikita Kucherov’s goal with 7.8 seconds remaining in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final, there had been a terrible car accident in a place called Webster Parish, Louisiana, more than 2,000 miles southeast of the NHL bubble in Edmonton. For hockey purposes, it might as well be a million miles away. But for Cooper and Maroon, it’s far too close and far too raw.