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Joe Sakic, Jared Bednar Conference Call Transcript

by Colorado Avalanche / Colorado Avalanche

Brendan McNicholas: Thank you very much and good afternoon everyone. On the line with us today is Avalanche Executive Vice President and General Manager Joe Sakic, as well as the new Head Coach for the Colorado Avalanche, Jared Bednar…

(Steve Whyno): Hey Joe, this is Steve Whyno from the AP. Just curious -- what among all the candidates you interviewed this week made Jared stick out? And you mentioned he’s an up-and-coming coach, but what was it in the interview process that made him stick out for you as the top candidate?

Joe Sakic: Well, first, before I answer that question I just want to say thank you to Jarmo Kekäläinen, John Davison, and the Columbus organization for - I know it’s a time-sensitive matter and I know what they’re going through now looking for an American league head coach. So I just want to, like I said, say thank you to them for their patience and their understanding through this process.

With the interview process - and we interviewed a lot of candidates, different candidates. We interviewed some from the American Hockey League, some current NHL assisting coaches, some with head coach experience. And we wanted to do a different flavor. But just to see for the right fit for our organization.

And I just liked the way, obviously, Jared’s track record - won an East Coast Championship. He just won the Calder Cup. I know from talking to a lot of different people that he’s a very demanding coach but fair to the players. And the players respect that. They play for him. And just the way he plays, he likes his teams to play the game, I think it’s just going to be a real good fit for our group.

(Terry Frei): Jared, in all your years in the ECHL, AHL, did you think this day - this is Terry Frei of The Denver Post, by the way -- would ever come? Were you always looking at trying to become an NHL coach?

Jared Bednar: Thanks Terry. Yes, I think first before I answer that as well I’d really like to take a second and thank Joe Sakic and the Kroenke family for their trust and for the opportunity. I’m really looking forward to working with the team here in Denver.

Back to your question, I think having played a number of years in the minors - and I started coaching and my ultimate goal was obviously to get to the NHL and coach at the highest level, and then earn an opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup. I think that was my goal going into it and I’ve worked real hard to try and achieve those goals. And this is another step in that direction. It’s something that I take a lot of pride in and something I’ve worked really hard for. And it hasn’t’ been an overnight thing, but it’s taken some time. And I think that all my stops along the way have helped prepare me for this.

(Terry Frei): Follow-up if I could: this team won a Stanley Cup with a coach who had not played or coached in the National Hockey League. But is that something you’ll need to overcome? Or is it something you can use?

Jared Bednar: I don’t think it’s something that you need to overcome. I think the work that you put into the job is - helps you to get to where you’re going and where you’d like to get to as a professional. I think that goes for any line of work.

So like I said, I take this very seriously. I’ve been preparing for this my whole career and I’m a competitor. And that’s what I put into it on a daily basis, and I work extremely hard for it. So I know that our team will do the same thing.

It’s one of those things where I think your preparation and the work you put into it comes back to you.

(Terry Frei): Last one. Are you going to keep Dave Farrish and Tim Army?

Jared Bednar: You know what? I just got hired today, so for me I’m looking forward to getting into Denver next week and sitting down with all the other coaches and talking through some things, and going from there. But as of right now, I haven’t even had a chance to speak with anyone, so I would like to talk with all those guys and just see how it all plays out.

(Mike Chambers): Yes, Jared. Just about your style of play. Obviously, you’ve got a preference in how you want to play the game, but yet will that be determined how you coach the Avalanche through training camp next month?

Jared Bednar: Yes. I have a style of play that I think works in today’s game. I think you have to be an aggressive team. I think you have to - the games are getting faster every day and I think you have to put out an up-tempo style. You have to attack and that’s just not offensively but defensively as well.

I think that that, for us, should be set from day one in training camp, the tempo and the pace that we play with and the aggressive style that I would like to play. I think that’s something that you start day one in training camp and you keep trying to improve and keep trying to get better in those areas every day throughout the course of the season so your team gets better and faster as the year goes on.

(Mike Chambers): I have a follow-up for Joe, if that’s okay.

Joe Sakic: Yes.

(Mike Chambers): Yes, Joe. Could you just talk about the field of candidates? It seemed like you guys had a bunch of people very qualified and it just seemed like it was a good group of candidates.

Joe Sakic: Yes, we did that when we went over the process. We didn’t’ want to just limit ourselves with one certain style of coach. I wanted to see what’s out there. So we did our homework. And like I said, I wanted to interview some up-and-coming American Hockey League guys like Jared Bednar.

And I wanted to hire some current - or interview some current assistant coaches and some with more experience, some with less. But a different variety just so we could have a good group of candidates with different paths, different visions. And again, I thought it was a great process. I learned a lot going through it. It was a busy time, obviously, with the timing of it all.

We had to make a decision quicker than you might normally have, but we respected the process. And after the interview process - which I thought all the candidates did a tremendous job and it was great to be a part of that.

I’ve been gone for the last couple days up in the Northwest and really had a chance to reflect by myself and do my homework, make some calls to different people that I trust who are in the League just going over the process. And just confident yesterday I got it down to two good people.

And this morning - I had a great night’s sleep. This morning I got up and called Jared. And I’m very confident and comfortable with Jared leading our group. I like the way his teams play. I think it suits and fits with the way we play. We have a fast forward group and that up-tempo pressure game all over the ice is, first of all, exciting and it’s going to suit our team.

(Mike Chambers): Joe, you said that you came down with the final two last night. Is it fair to say that that second guy was Lane Lambert?

Joe Sakic: You know, I’m not going to comment on all the candidates, the ones we interviewed. I don’t think that does anything fair for the process. Each one was tremendous and I appreciated - I had to get permission from all of their GMs. And like I said, it wasn’t the easiest thing for anybody, but they all showed me that support, a lot of great support from the GMs in allowing me to go through this process. And I really appreciated that.

But all the candidates were good and I just thought that the best guy for our team right now is Jared Bednar.

(Mike Chambers): Last question, Joe. Are you going to allow Jared to bring in his own assistant coaches if that’s what he chooses?

Joe Sakic: We are late in the process here, but I know Jared’s going to want to get in and talk to our coaches first. And we’ll see where that goes. At the end of the day you want to surround your coaching staff with the people that he’s going to work best with. And I know he’s got to get in town and meet with our other coaches.

Obviously he has a relationship already with Nolan Pratt, but - so he knows him. And he’s going to get to meet Tim Army and Dave Farris as well. And at the end of the day, your coach has to be happy.

(Mike Chambers): Thank you.

(Josh Cooper): Hi. This is Josh Cooper with Yahoo Sports. Jared, I was wondering what do you think of this Avalanche roster right now. Joe said there’s a lot of speed. There is a lot of speed on this roster, obviously, but what’s your take on it? And it just sounds like how you guys are describing your style and this roster that it’s a pretty solid fit all the way around.

Jared Bednar: Yes. So I’ve had a chance to look over some of the games from last year and pick through some things going through this process. And it’s an exciting group. I think there’s a group of forwards there especially that can by dynamic guys and play fast. I just see it as it being a good fit as well.

I think that - like I mentioned earlier, the League’s getting faster every day and we have to find a way to put a structure in place that gets these guys playing an up-tempo style so they have support all over the ice as well. And bring the group together and then move forward from there.

I think paying attention to the process and getting better every day and coming together as a team and working to get better and improving daily is going to be a focus early on. But implementing that style where we’re aggressive in all areas of the arena and we’re organized I think is very important to me. It’s how I’ve had success in the past and how I see us having success in the future.

And when I look at the pieces and I look at some of the young core guys, not just up front by on ‘D’ as well, I think it’s going to suit their style of play and only help them improve as individuals and as a team as quickly as possible.

(Josh Cooper): And do you have any coaching mentors or people who really helped you out along the way as you tried to move along in this business?

Jared Bednar: Yes, absolutely. I think - I try to learn a little bit from everyone that I come in contact with. And I’m a student of the game. And there’s certainly people -- probably too many to list -- that have helped me out along the way. But I talked with a lot of my peers weekly and try to stay in touch and see what everyone is doing and how everything is going, and some of the challenges we face as coaches and things like that.

But there’s certainly people that have helped me. And one of the big ones is probably Jim Playfair. He’s with Arizona now and I went to work with him early in my AHL career out in Abbotsford. And he’s a guy that I lean on at times and certainly the coach - being in the AHL you have NHL coaches at your disposal if you’re certain organizations. And there’s lot of guys that I’ve come in contact with over the years that have helped me out tremendously on my road to get to this point.

And that’s a big part of this. I think the support system that you have -- family and friends and peers -- I think is very important. No one gets where they want to go without that support.

(Josh Cooper): Thank you.

(Aaron Matas): Hi Joe. This is Aaron Matas from 9News in Denver. I was just wondering, given the situation, if you guys did consider going an interim route. I see you didn’t. I’m just wondering maybe why you didn’t decide to go that route or if you are planning on reevaluating after the season in lieu of a more traditional coaching search.

Joe Sakic: Obviously, right away - what transpired two weeks ago. So we were in a rush situation. But I wanted to do the best thing, what I thought was the best thing for the franchise. And I just thought knowing the candidates - I know we had a time crunch, but I knew there was a lot of good candidates outside of the organization that I wanted to talk to first.

And that’s the avenue I wanted to take. I wanted to do my homework, my due diligence, and really get a lot of different candidates in to just hear different perspectives and see the right fit. And that’s why I did that.

(Aaron Matas): And Jared, just two for you. Just wondering your thoughts on being a little bit behind now and being kind of in a rush to get going here with camp fast approaching.

Jared Bednar: Yes. You know, it’s probably not the ideal situation, but I think that I’ll rely heavily on the coaching staff that’s in place and the management team, and getting to Denver as quickly as possible and utilize everyone’s expertise and their experience in a lot of those areas, and help us get organized here as quickly as possible.

We still have a significant amount of time before training camp opens and I think there’s plenty of time here to get organized and get prepared for that. I’ll spend my time familiarizing myself with not only digging deeper into the players and the way we want to play, but talking with those guys and getting their expertise and opinions on everything as we put our plan together going into training camp.

(Aaron Matas): And just finally you said this was kind of the ultimate goal, and after positions were filled earlier in the spring and summer, just wondering how shocked you were by all of this. Two weeks ago all of a sudden an unexpected job opens up and suddenly you’re a head coach in the NHL.

Jared Bednar: Yes, it’s a little bit of a different situation, I think, because of the timing of it. I’ve never been trying to get on a fast track to get to the NHL. I feel like the goal is to do a good job where you are and be consistent and hone your craft. And that’s what I’ve been working on over the years. In fact, I’ve been fortunate to land in a great situation in the Columbus organization. And more particularly here in Cleveland, and I was happy here as a coach and it is a great place to coach. And it’s been a great place to be.

When this opportunity came up, it was just something that I couldn’t pass up. I wanted to be involved in it right away. Knowing what I know about Joe and other people in the organization, I think the people you work with is the most important thing, and I’m looking forward to joining this group and pushing this team forward. I think that that’s, again, it wasn’t maybe a normal situation just because of the timing of it, but I was certainly happy to be considered. And I’m ecstatic to have been named the head coach, and look forward to getting to work.

(Les Shapiro): It’s Les Shapiro, Mile High Sports. Hey Joe.

Joe Sakic: Hey Les.

(Les Shapiro): The organization has had a tendency to hire head coaches without any NHL head coaching experience. And of course you’ve played for a few of those coaches as well. I’m wondering what gives you the confidence and the comfort to once again hire somebody who does not have NHL head coaching experience, especially in light of the fact that this is -- although young chronologically – this is a team that has a lot of experience now.

Joe Sakic: Yes, we have a lot of experience. You’re right. We’re still young. We have some young guys coming up. I just look around the League. There’s a lot of great coaches that have come up from the American Hockey League. And I won two Stanley Cups with coaches that didn’t have head coaching experience when they came in. They’re the best coaches around that came right from the American Hockey League.

And I look at the track record and I place a lot of value in winning championships. And I know Jared’s won on the East Coast and he just won the Calder Cup. And it’s tough to win in any league, and to be able to win you’ve got to be doing something right.

And after my interview process and going through the different candidates, I just felt that this comfort-wise - this was the best fit for our team and to get them to the next level. And the next level is learning how to win, and I believe Jared’s going to get them there.

(Les Shapiro): Thanks Joe.

(Mike Chambers): Joe, Mike Chambers with The Denver Post again. In the release it doesn’t say anything about the length of the contract. Could you talk about the length of Jared’s contract.

Joe Sakic: It’s three years.

(Mike Chambers): And then I have one for Jared, please. Jared, given the fact that we’re so late in the summer and school has started, are you going to move your family here immediately or wait until the Christmas or something?

Jared Bednar: Yes. I think the plan is to try to get everyone there as soon as possible. It may take a little bit of time and it might end up being Christmas, just because of the timeframe getting ready to go into camp and whatnot. I want to dive right into the workload there and get prepared.

But the goal is to definitely get us all together in Denver as soon as possible.

Brendan McNicholas: Great, thank you everyone. We appreciate your time today and we’ll talk to you next week. Thank you. Thanks, Joe. Thanks, Jared.

Joe Sakic: Thank you.

Jared Bednar: Thank you.

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