What a difference three years makes.
Turn back the calendar to the end of the 2016-17 season. To say things in Colorado were not good wouldn’t give justice to just how bad things were. The Avalanche suffered through a 60-loss season and a lot of drama. Most notably, the Matt Duchene situation was playing out.
Talk about walking into a situation for a new head coach. Jared Bednar ran into a buzzsaw.
The Avalanche finished the season in last place by miles. The next closest team had 21 more points. Bednar landed his NHL opportunity only to experience one of the worst seasons in recent memory.
The Avalanche had a decision to make. Do they try to find another coach after just one season? In one of the more important decisions in the Joe Sakic era, he decided to retain Bednar despite many critics wondering if that would be the right decision.
Sakic said that Bednar didn’t get a fair shake in that crazy season. He deserved another opportunity with a new season.
Turns out Sakic made the right decision. Look at the state of the Avalanche now.
It’s not often in today’s game that you have both a team that can win a Stanley Cup and one of the top-10 prospects systems in the NHL. The Avalanche have that.
They also have a head coach in Bednar who is perfect for the situation. In 2017-18, he led the Avalanche to the playoffs as the second wildcard. They went from 48 to 95 points in just one season. Amazing.
Then in 2018-19, Bednar led the Avalanche to the playoffs again. This time they knocked the Calgary Flames out of the first round before losing to San Jose in round two.
This season, the Avalanche enter Saturday night’s game with the Columbus Blue Jackets second in the Western Conference. They are in prime position to fight for home ice advantage in the playoffs. Bednar once again is leading the way with a fun and talented roster.
So why is Bednar so good at what he does? I asked Matt Calvert, Ian Cole and Andre Burakovsky to share their insight into Bednar and what makes him who he is. You’ll notice a common theme within their answers. There’s respect there. That’s because his style is a perfect fit for this roster.
Players React to Bednar
Here’s Calvert on Bednar: “I had Bedsy as a power play coach in Springfield so I’ve known him for a while. The biggest thing with him is he shows confidence in his players. He’s patient. Obviously with us being a young team with them having the record they did three years ago and getting better every year, he allows guys to grow. He allows guys to become the player they should be in this league. You know you make one mistake he’s not on you. To me that’s the biggest asset.”
Cole echoed a similar sentiment when talking about Bednar.
“He’s a great hockey mind,” Cole said. “Systems wise and intelligence wise he’s right up there all the coaches that I’ve had. I think his demeanor is what sets him apart. With that hockey mind, he’s very calm. He’s not quick to hit the panic button. He tends to be very objective and can look at the game and our performance unemotionally and is able to evaluate where the team is and have the correct conversations.”
Burakovsky also noticed the calmness of Bednar and letting the group handle things.
“I think with Bedsy he’s really confident in his group,” Burakovsky said. “Most of the time he’s letting the group, if you’re going good or you’re going bad he’s letting the group come together and sort things out. He’s a really calm guy. I really enjoy him the way he’s running and coaching a team.”
As you can see, the players look at Bednar as a voice of reason. His calmness and demeanor has allowed the team to thrive and grow into a Cup contender. It’s no wonder he’s won at every stop he’s been on. He just gets it.
Bednar and the Avalanche hope to find a way to slow down the red-hot Blue Jackets. There should be plenty of familiarity there as he coached Lake Erie to a Calder Cup. Zach Werenski and Oliver Bjorkstrand are among a group of Blue Jackets who played for Bednar on that Monsters team.
Even then, Bednar displayed confidence and calmness. He’s carried that over to the NHL and has big hopes for where the Avalanche could eventually go.
A reassuring voice. That’s the MO of Jared Bednar. The Avalanche continue to benefit daily from the way he handles his business.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.