Cooper steeped in hockey head
At the young age of 33, Ben Cooper has already built up quite the resume. Aside from being an assistant coach for the Trojans men’s hockey team, Cooper is a full time employee of Hockey Canada and is working his way up the ranks in the hockey world.
In February of 2010, Cooper was hired as the video director of Team Canada’s men’s hockey team at the Olympics in Vancouver. His job was to break down game tapes with the coaches, prepare pre-scout video, prepare tech packages for each game, and produce motivational videos.
Working for Team Canada in his hometown of Vancouver was a surreal experience for Cooper, but with the experience came stress and pressure.
It was a very demanding job, but he performed to the best of his abilities and had a role in the team’s gold medal winning performance.
“If you wanted to see the weaknesses of Peter Budaj, the backup for Slovakia, we had it covered. There wasn’t anything in terms of preparation that was missed,” says Cooper.
“I can say without a doubt, especially having spoken to the video coaches of Team USA and Team Sweden, that Team Canada was by far the most prepared team in the tournament.”
Cooper has been lucky to surround himself with members of the NHL’s coaching elite early on in his career. He’s worked alongside legends such as Mike Babcock, Pat Quinn, Lindy Ruff, Barry Trotz, and Jacques Lemarie.
Always a student of the game, Cooper has taken full advantage of this privilege and absorbs as much knowledge as he can from hockey’s greatest minds.
“I’ve been able to pick things from each one of them, whether it be systems or the terminology they use, the way they communicate, the way they see and think the game,” he says.
“I’ve been able to take little things from each one of them and find my own style. I’ve also seen firsthand what it takes to win at the highest level.”
Cooper’s own contributions to the game haven’t gone unnoticed. In January, he was named among the top 40 under 40 people of power in the game by The Hockey News.
Hockey has long been an integral part of Cooper’s life. As a kid he played minor hockey for the Vancouver Thunderbirds Minor Hockey Association.
Cooper always seemed to land a job in the game after graduating university, and his first significant hockey job was with the Vancouver Canucks – where he worked for a few years in corporate sales and media relations.
From there he became the video coach for the Toronto Marlies, the Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affiliate team. He worked under current Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice, and former Calgary Flames coach Greg Gilbert.
After a few years in Toronto, Cooper moved to Calgary to work for Hockey Canada full-time, the position he currently holds alongside coaching for the Trojans.
SAIT’s head hockey coach Ken Babey credits Hockey Canada’s coaching certification program for making him the coach he is today, and says the program could offer the same to Cooper.
The two men met when Babey presented during Hockey Canada’s coaching symposium, and Cooper was in one of Babey’s groups. When Babey found out Cooper was looking for a coaching opportunity in Calgary, he brought him on the Trojans’ team.
Cooper credits hard work and dedication for his success today, but his love for the game is what truly drives him. “When you love what you do, most of the time it doesn’t feel like a job,” he says.