Colorado Rubber

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Avalanche coach Bednar gets victory No. 266, now sits atop team coaching wins list


Jared Bednar isn’t one for celebrations, unless, of course, that means the Colorado Avalanche wins the Stanley Cup.

And while that indeed took place last June, Bednar eclipsed two more milestones this week in coaching his 500th NHL game (all with the Avs) and in beating the Washington Capitals 3-2 Tuesday night, Bednar earned win No. 266 with Colorado – now the team record for most coaching wins, passing Michel Bergeron‘s 265 total from the 1980s when the team was the Quebec Nordiques.

“It’s a fine line between winning and losing, (and) there’s some worry in there,” Bednar said. “This isn’t a forgiving league. It’s a results-oriented league. Coaches tend to get moved on fairly quickly, I would say. I would say that I’m fortunate to work with people of the Colorado Avalanche organization. They’ve shown me a lot of trust. It’s a two-way street. After my first year, I thought there would be a better-than-average chance that I would be let go.

“I would just have to deal with it and move on, but I was fortunate to get the second chance in my second year. I thought we had a great year. It was a fun year. There were lots of changes personnel-wise, (and) there was a different attitude around the room. They were young, fast. It was a team that was going to be rebuilding and I think we got there a lot quicker than most people thought we would. I wouldn’t say there was a lot of self-doubt, but a lot of eternal evaluation.”

As the third longest-tenured head coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper (2013) and Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins (2015), it’s obvious that the Avalanche players relish playing for the 50-year-old Bednar.

“He’s a new-era coach; he’s not like old-school coaches,” Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen said. “He can be very close to the players; he’s a player’s coach. He is very good with matchups. In the playoffs, it’s very important and he’s very good at thinking about what players should play together, against what line will they be matched up with, how should they play to be successful. It’s not easy to stay with one team for seven years, but he has, and we’ve been successful, too. We had those struggles to get past the second round, but, obviously, he was someone I was really happy for when we won the Cup last year.”

After winning it all last year, Bednar became the only coach ever to win at all three top professional hockey levels (NHL, AHL, ECHL). He coached the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL to a Kelly Cup championship in 2008-09, led the Lake Erie Monsters to an AHL Calder Cup championship in 2015-16 and helped the Avalanche to their third Stanley Cup in franchise history last June 26.

“His details and how he motivates players is pretty unique,” Avalanche forward Logan O’Connor said. “He gets players to play the right way and guys want to go to war for him because of how hard he works in his day-to-day preparation. He knows when to push guys and when to let off guys in different moments depending on the person and what will maximize their potential. He has a really great understanding of which guys work well together and when to give opportunities for guys to move up the lineup and when to reward guys for doing the right sort of thing. He gets the most out of his players. He demands a level of accountability, details and structure.

“I think because of all that, it’s not surprising he’s won at every level.”

Photo & Quotes/Colorado Avalanche

— Matt Mackinder

(January 26, 2023)

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