Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar’s performance is significant

Jared Bednar has no time for nonsense.

Yours, mine, or someone else’s.

He became the most successful coach in franchise history on Tuesday night, bringing home his 266th win in his 500th competition, and when asked about the outstanding performance, he basically shrugged.

“I’m glad it’s over so we can stop talking about it to be honest,” Bednar said after that game. “As for the record, I’m glad it’s over.”

That was that.

The man doesn’t suffer from fools, lack of effort, or defeats in general, and he’s tired of talking about a number he’s sure to leave in the dust.

He was busy.

Busy creating a winning culture. Diligently tinker championship values. He is busy winning the club’s first Stanley Cup in 21 years. Busy effortlessly navigating most of the adversity he’s seen in his time behind the Avalanche bank. Busy coaching and finding a way out of an ugly descent that has left his team in free fall in the standings and facing a fading playoff spot. And now we’re busy climbing the ladder and making sure to find consistency as the hard part of the season comes into focus.

He has more important things on his mind, but 266 wins in seven seasons is no small feat. It deserves some recognition. Michel Bergeron, who coached the Quebec Nordiques for eight years (1980-87 and 1989-90), needed 634 games to reach 265 wins. Bednar has made it in over 100 fewer competitions.

Bednar pulled it off with a franchise-record 56 wins in the season. He did, too, with a dismal 22-win campaign to get things going.

This is a guy who started his first NHL coaching job in August after his predecessor abruptly left the organization ahead of the Avalanche’s worst season since Quebec City’s great migration south. With less than a month to get ready and a lame duck list to work with, he jumped in the frying pan anyway.

The next year, he led the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14, and the Avs have been there every season since.

“He’s been my coach since my rookie year so I got to know him really well and especially last year what he’s capable of,” Mikko Rantanen reminded us aging wordsmiths. “He’s been training hard this year. We didn’t cruise like last season. We were in cruise mode for a bit. We won games and played well. Not that many injuries. So this year has been tough, and [he’s] Maybe he needed more training, us and the younger guys, and he did a good job. He really adapts to things and [has] was good.”

Bednar brought Denver its first back-to-back postseason hockey series since 2002-03 and 2003-04, but people called for his head when Colorado lost seven of eight after the vacation.

Featuring a semi-pro cast that would make Jackie Moon cringe.

Andrew Cogliano, a five-team NHL team veteran with 1,184 regular-season games played and another 116 in the postseason, told me at the time, “there isn’t a better-trained team” than his current one.

He reinforced that again on Tuesday.

“Obviously he’s been here for quite a while, but not terribly much. To do that here in seven or eight years is very impressive. I’m not really surprised to be honest,” said No. 11. “He deserves it very much. A very, very good coach. Very detailed. Simple guy to play for. I think that’s the biggest thing. I think the players like playing for him. I think it’s very easy to play for him when it comes to bringing it up every night and competing. And like I said, I think he’s doing a really good job. He has a really good pulse in the room because he has a really good idea of ​​what needs to be done and what’s really happening on the ice.”

The ‘Fire the Coach!’ The ridiculousness at this point seems like a bad, sweaty, post-holiday fasting, dry January fever dream. Now the Avalanche are third in the Western Conference, have beaten their opponents 25-8 in their last six wins, haven’t fallen behind once and are looking to get healthy after the All-Star break.

The best part about this recent turnaround is that no one shut down the message Bednar was broadcasting. When push came to shove, players leaned on their coach.

“Seven or eight years with the same coach could probably get tiring, but with him it will [isn’t]’ said Nathan MacKinnon. “It’s not in your face. It’s good. He’s very smart. He has our respect and he respects all of us, which is great.”

“You have to find a balance there too. It can’t be overly positive, but I don’t think you can be overly negative either,” Rantanen said of coaching during tougher times. “You have to find the balance [because] you have to demand a lot from your players. I like it. Coaches do that, but you also have to give them space. So I think he’s really good at it.”

These are people who might get tired of working with Bedsy and his staff, but they haven’t yet.

“He’s a good guy. It really is. Whether it was painful or annoying, who knows, right? But it’s easy,” MacKinnon said. “I think he knows when to push the buttons, when to be hard on us, when to be positive. I think it’s easier. He gets to know us. He knows how we like to treat everyone in the locker room and how he treats everyone. So there definitely needs to be chemistry built with your coach.”

Artturi Lehkonen, a man of many goals lately but few words, said Bednar’s true ability is knowing his players and knowing what they can do.

“He reads the room well. he works hard I really like his coaching style,” he said. “He trusts me as a player. That’s what you want as a player, you want the coach’s confidence that you’re going to do your job out there.”

And that includes wins and losses. It includes during hot spells and dry spells. It spans the career-like years of guys like Rantanen and the downturn, slumping sophomore years of guys like Alex Newhook.

“He’s a good coach and since I’ve been here he’s been very open and honest with me. Obviously he wants me to be successful,” Newhook said. “[I’m] privileged to be under him and obviously winning last year and then leading it into this year it was all good.

After Bednar set the record in Colorado’s 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals, their sixth straight, the coach wasn’t as enthusiastic about the effort as a fan might be.

No, he praised the goalkeepers but said they needed more energy. The team had more to do and give and correct than just get another dub in the left column.

That’s where his mind is. That’s where his focus is.

That’s why I didn’t ask the guy who used to talk to me about movies and James Bond and TV shows and who got to Schitt’s Creek ahead of everyone else for season one for his thoughts on the Oscar nominations that came out this week. I’m sure he has opinions, but he doesn’t go for distractions at times that require focus.

Patrick Roy’s career has been all about winning, nothing else. That left a legacy, but perhaps left a void. For Jared Bednar, it’s all about winning the right way and developing the winning habits that lead everyone to success – both individually and as a team.

There are no shortcuts. Unless you’re talking about eating gum from your players.

“He’s always ranting around and chewing on guys and sneaking into the boys’ booths looking for some bags, which is pretty funny, as your trainer,” MacKinnon said, laughing. “But it makes sense. He’s one of the guys in a way, I think. I think he’s good at being your best mate and your coach.”

With a measure of confidence in his players and a track record of success in Colorado, it’s no wonder the longest-serving coach in Avalanche history and currently the third-longest-serving coach in the NHL has become the most successful coach in franchise history.

He sniffed the record for most wins in an NHL season last year but settled for winning the Stanley Cup. He set expectations in training camp for a tough start to a challenging year after a short summer and surpassed those expectations with a squad revolving door. He has challenged youngsters to step up, leaders to lead by example, new players to support the vision, and weathered the associated successes and challenges this season.

And somehow it still feels like he’s just getting started.


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