Put yourself in Jared Bednar’s shoes. You are fresh off a 2016 Calder Cup championship and gearing up for another campaign when you get a call from Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic on the eve of NHL training camp. The legendary forward wants to interview in the wake of legend Patrick Roy‘s tumultuous exit. How would you feel? Jared Bednar got the job and is now entering his fourth season with the Avs with his most talented roster yet.
The Impact Jared Bednar Will Have in Colorado
What Bednar has Accomplished So Far
It is incredible to look back and see how much Bednar has done with Colorado in his first three years. His debut year behind an NHL bench, the 2016-17 season, was a trainwreck. So much so that the Avalanche even dealt away disgruntled star Matt Duchene. The 48-point campaign was one of the worst in team history, a very unpromising start to Bednar’s NHL career.
The team miraculously rebounded to 95 points in the following 2017-18 season. This was thanks in large part to explosive performances from players like Nathan MacKinnon, who tallied 97 points. A second season even remotely as bad as the first would have likely booted Bednar out of town. However, the stoic leader stuck through things and has led the Avalanche to the post-season that year. He followed up the strong rebound with an equally as impressive 2018-19 season that also saw the Avalanche make the playoffs. It also included a huge series win over the Calgary Flames, although they were eventually eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the second round. Still, expectations are even higher this year after several offseason moves geared towards improving the team’s scoring depth.
Comparison to His Predecesor
Bednar is among the calmest coaches you are likely to see on any NHL bench. He is a mountain of stability compared to the fiery Roy. It’s rare for Bednar to show frustration, he portrays almost no emotion during games. That has allowed his star players to dictate the team’s emotions while he focuses on the gameplan.
Bednar also seems much more creative than Roy. While Roy was famously aggressive in his use of pulling his goaltender and relying on the counterattack, his teams were terrible on possession. He made no effort to adapt his plans to the game around him, causing Colorado to suffer on both ends of the ice. Some things were beyond Roy’s control, such as the age-related decline of players, but the Avalanche only outscored opponents once in Roy’s three years. They also never had a positive Corsi mark during his tenure. However, the team has improved in some areas and have outscored opponents in two of the three seasons since the coaching change.
Last season was a major test of Bednar’s ability to adapt and he did a decent job of it. He occasionally separated his top line to boost scoring. He also shuffled the fourth line numerous times due to injury or lack of production. It mostly worked considering the team made the playoffs. One of Bednar’s other challenges was goaltending. Neither Philipp Grubauer nor Semyon Varlamov were very consistent through the winter. A coach can only do so much with goalies but he stuck with his duo and was rewarded when Grubauer got hot late in the year. Bednar’s calm demeanour clearly rubbed off on the struggling goaltenders, as they fought to keep their emotions in check.
What to Expect from Bednar in 2019-20
The fourth-year coach enters the season with massive expectations. A star top line, a rebuilt second line, and a (hopefully) steady fourth line are just some of the things Bednar will manage this year. He also gets a defence featuring stud rookie Cale Makar and an intriguing pair of netminders in Grubauer and former overseas stud Pavel Francouz. Bednar’s approach should give fans confidence in the upcoming year. There is every reason to think the calm and collected Jared Bednar is leading the team into a bright future.