The Avalanche are hoping an AHL and ECHL title can cross over to NHL success as they’ve hired now-former Cleveland Monsters coach Jared Bednar to take over as bench boss in Colorado.
Bednar, 44, is coming off of a tremendously successful season in the AHL in which he coached the Monsters to a Calder Cup in just his second year behind the bench. During the post-season run with the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, Bednar’s Monsters club lost just two games, with both defeats coming at the hands of the Grand Rapids Griffins in the second round. Cleveland, then known as Lake Erie, swept both the conference and Calder Cup finals.
“After profiling the type of coach I wanted for our team and going through an interview process with several good candidates, I believe that Jared Bednar is the best person to lead this team behind the bench,” said Avalanche GM Joe Sakic. “Jared’s track record of success as a head coach in the American Hockey League speaks for itself and he is considered to be one of the top up-and-coming coaches in our business.”
There’s no doubting that Bednar’s incredible success this past season vaulted him up the list of coaching candidates, a list that reportedly including the likes of NHL assistants Kevin Dineen, Bob Boughner and Lane Lambert. That’s not to mention Bednar beat out Travis Green for the job, despite Green being a consistent frontrunner for vacant coaching positions.
Bednar’s hiring comes exactly two weeks after Patrick Roy stepped down from his post as Avalanche coach, a move which shocked the hockey world. Roy’s abrupt resignation came at an awful time for the Avalanche with training camp roughly a month away, but Sakic said even though the hiring process needed to be accelerated to get a coach in place for training camp, he felt Colorado was still able to interview the top candidates for the job.
Though his biggest success may have come just this past season, Bednar is no stranger to life behind the bench.
His coaching career began in 2002-03 with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, with whom he won a Kelly Cup in 2008-09 in his second season as head coach. The Stingrays championship vaulted him to the AHL, where he took on the assistant gig with Abbotsford Heat in 2009-10. He then spent two seasons as coach of the Peoria Rivermen before landing with the Springfield Falcons in 2012-13, which led him to the coaching job with the Monsters.
The most promising thing about the hiring of Bednar is that he’s shown marked success working with younger players in the ECHL and AHL.
The Avalanche boast the 11th youngest roster in the league, according to Elite Prospects, and Bednar will have the chance to work with players such as Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher, all of whom are 25 or younger. Bednar’s ability to get through to and work with younger talent could pay great dividends for Colorado.
“I feel ready for this role with the Avalanche and I am grateful for the trust that (Avalanche president) Josh Kroenke, Joe (Sakic) and the organization has shown me,” Bednar said. “This is a great sports market with a passionate fan base and I can’t wait to get to work.”
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