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Joe Sakic End of Season Press Conference Quotes

Avalanche general manager wraps up 2017-18 campaign and looks ahead to next season

by Colorado Avalanche @Avalanche / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Joe Sakic End of Season Presser

Avs GM Joe Sakic on the 2017-18 season

Avalanche Exec. VP/General Manager Joe Sakic discusses the 2017-18 campaign and looks ahead to the draft, free agency and next season

  • 16:00 •

Colorado Avalanche executive vice president/general manager Joe Sakic had a news conference on Monday to discuss the team's performance during the 2017-18 season.

Among the topics that were discussed were the Avs' Stanley Cup Playoff run, this summer's draft and free agency and the expectations for next season.

Here is the transcript of Sakic's conversation with the Denver media.

On if injuries hurt Colorado in the playoffs:

"It hurts when you don't have your No. 1 'D' and your No. 1 goalie, but I give our guys a lot of credit. They battled adversity all year, it didn't matter who was hurt. They stuck together, they found a way to win games, get in the playoffs, and except for last night's game where I think we run out of gas, it was a heck of a series by our guys. All teams have injuries this time of year and you have to deal with them, and our guys played hard. They believed in each other, and we went to Game 6. Overall, over the course of the year, really proud of this group. They did an amazing job."

On if Colorado will get Ottawa's first round pick this year:

"We probably won't be told until right before the pick. But, I am assuming that they are going to keep this year's pick and we will get next year's, my assumption."

On the needs and wants this offseason:

"The key for us is we are going to stay the course. We had an amazing, amazing year from our guys. We have a young team. It's not like our guys are going to be seven-year pros all of a sudden next year for some of our younger players. We expect growth from them, but I mean we are going to stay young. In the next couple years, we may even get younger with some of our guys. We want to, if we can, even try and get a little bit quicker and faster out there. We love the way we play the game, it's fast, it's entertaining. You see the Pepsi Center here, especially the last couple months with a new generation of fans, the building has been alive, back to where it once was. It's exciting, we know the fans here are excited about this group. This group of players, they believe in each other and there's no quit. They play hard, and we want to keep that. The dressing room had great chemistry, and we want to make sure that whatever we do the chemistry in the dressing room is good."

On the change from last year to this year:

"I think we had 12, 13 new guys this year, we had an overhaul, but I mean its 180 degrees. Last year at the end of the year, glad it's over and you can start fresh, start from the beginning. This is our first year, but the excitement that this group brought to Denver, brought to the fans. And you can see, like I said, the last couple months of the season, fans really appreciated that, and the players captured their hearts."

On if he feels any vindication from the year-to-year improvement:

"Not at all, really I mean every year is different. Obviously, we knew last year that we had to get through the year to start fresh, and we did that. Not going to lie to you, we feel a lot better this year than we did last year at that point but, like I said, it was Year One of this. We got a great group of guys. I know things were really, really tough last year, but the guys that came back, we have some really good players that came back. They were prepared all last summer. I think the entire organization and the players were all embarrassed of what happened that year. But the effort and the commitment that the players, the returning players, had in the summer and training camp and throughout, there was a different mindset. I am really proud of those guys and obviously the new guys that came in, the character guys, and the belief in each other and the will to find ways to win games. It's impressive."

On evaluating the three-team trade in Novmeber:

"I don't have to evaluate it, we did that back in November. We liked the return we got, and that's what we are trying to accomplish in a trade like that, is to build for the future and we are going to continue doing that. That was back in November, we have all moved on."

On when Colorado became a respected team again:

"I think it was just over the course of the year really. We had a decent start and then obviously we made the trade, but really I think when you talk to the players, the Sweden trip came at a good time. It's a really young team, a lot of different faces on the team, and they had a good chance to just hang out with each other and bond. It was a timely trip for us and coming back, when we did face adversity and when people started thinking, 'This is when it turns and goes back,' the players never believed in that. They believe in one another, they kept working, they found a way to win games. We had some big players out for some time with some injuries, and it didn't matter. The mindset was the same: go out and play exciting hockey and believe in each other and win games. And they accomplished that."

On the Avalanche's free agents:

"We just finished the season yesterday, and we are going to take some time and, like everybody, you take a few weeks off. Our pro and amateur scouts are going to come in here, and we are going to reevaluate this team and where we can get better going forward and what we need to do, or what we are going to try to do. That's where we are going to be going with this, get ready for the draft, free agency and whatever other opportunity comes to help us out. Make no mistake, we aren't going to chase it. We are going to stay the course and keep letting this team grow because they deserve it."

On head coach Jared Bednar:

"He has done and amazing job, that entire staff. Working with the players, the respect that the coaches and the players have for one another. They are doing an amazing job and keeping this team at an even-keel and never letting it slip. Jared will be here another year after that, for sure."

On what taking it to the next level means:

"The next level is just to keep growing. They earned respect for themselves from the rest of the league this year, and just keep trying to get better and growing together and get their game at another level. We have a young team and some of these guys are going to get better. They learned a lot. It was great getting into the playoffs, just to feel that different level, where you have to go emotionally, the intensity goes up. I was really proud of them, but we also can't take it for granted. This is a tough league, we are in a tough division. Everybody else is going to get better and I believe these guys know that there is a lot of work to do in the summer and getting ready for next year."

On prospect Conor Timmins making the team next year:

"I thought last year he had an amazing training camp. He started rookie camp, and he kept getting better. There are some guys who didn't want to send him down, but we thought it was best for his development. Over the course of the year, he got better. He was Canada's arguably best defender in the World Juniors. He is still playing here, hopefully [the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds] get to the Memorial Cup. He has done a tremendous job. So it is going to be what he does in the summer, the time he puts in and how he does at training camp next year which is going to dictate where he is going to start."

On prospect Cale Makar returning for another year of college at UMass:

"When I talked to Cale, he felt it was best for him to go back for another year and keep getting stronger and working on his game, and I respect him for that decision. No issues. We look forward to Cale coming out hopefully next year."

On the Colorado Eagles becoming the Avalanche's AHL affiliate next season:

"We are moving up to Loveland, we are all excited about that, to have all our players 45 minutes up the road. It's going to be great for the entire organization. We decided we are going to have a fresh start next year. There's no timetable on the coach in Loveland. We will make that decision at some point."

On Nathan MacKinnon's season:

"Obviously, I'm think we're all huge fans of his game, but he definitely elevated it this year. I told people it started at the end of last year when his focus was to compete, go head-to-head against other team's top players and trying to win those battles. He's become a much more complete player, and that's what I love about his game. You see him when he touches the puck, he's electrifying. He's got to be one of the top two or three most exciting players in the game. You want to bring someone to their first hockey game, you want to bring them to watch Nathan MacKinnon play. He's unbelievable with what he can do with the puck, and the pressure he puts on the other team when he's skating up through the neutral zone with that high-end speed. He's done an amazing job of staying focused and taking his game to the next level. He's a winner and wants to win, and he hates losing and that's what's good about him."

On Gabriel Landeskog's leadership:

"He was a great leader last year to keep this group together and he's taken it to another level in leadership. You need those guys to step up in the playoffs. The emotional level, the intensity, everything ramps up, and I thought he was one of the more impressive players in the entire series. He brought it every single night. His physicality, his leadership, got big goals, and I'm pretty proud of the way he stepped up."

On watching the Game 5 comeback:

"It was a different game from the other games because there weren't a lot of chances in the first two periods, either way. It was 0-0 with 10 minutes to go in the game and then they scored, and you're wondering if that is it. Like all year, our team battled back, resilient, and they found a way to tie it and then get the lead and win it in regulation. That's basically been our team all year, they never quit. They always believe in each other, and that is something that we're going to need going forward."

On signing free agents:

"What we're going to do, like I said, we're planning on staying the course. If there are free agents out there that we may want to look at and speak to, we definitely will. We'll see where things go on that. But like I said, we're not planning on going into free agency trying to sign a bunch of free agents. If there are guys that we like and want to talk to, we'll certainly look at that."

On the team making the playoffs more frequently in the future:

"It's our goal to make the playoffs. There are seven new teams from the previous year. The parity in this league is as tight now as it has ever been throughout the league, in our conference, and especially in our division. Dallas was in sixth place, didn't make the playoffs, they had 92 points. You're going to have to get your game to another level and things have to go the right way, but it is our goal to make the playoffs, yes."

On getting a new ECHL affiliate:

"We're working on that. We're going to have that. That will be announced whenever it is finalized."

On the new ECHL Maine Mariners being an option:

"We're already in the works for our East Coast, where we want to be. That will be announced at some point once it is finalized, like I said. So, we're good to go."

On Jared Bednar's original contract length:

"Three (years), but he's got another year.

On extending Bednar's contract:

"We've already agreed, so he's going to be another year on top. I spoke to him, and we agreed on it last week."

On keeping Bednar around for the continuity of the team:

"Absolutely. We have a great working relationship. I really believe in him and his entire staff. It's a great group. They work well with the players. He's done a tremendous job and has earned everything he has gotten."

On if his confidence of Bednar ever wavered:

"Not at all. Last year, even when I talked to him, when we discussed having Jared come onboard, we knew it was going to be a tough year and we had to get through it. I liked the way he coached last year, the way he held our guys, especially our young guys, accountable. I knew speaking with him during the course of the year, the plans going into the summer, what we're going to expect of the players, getting ready for training camp--we we're already talking about that well before the end of the year. It never wavered. Really believe in Jared. He's a great coach, and he's done a tremendous job."

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