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Jared Bednar finally gets chance in NHL

Avalanche coach says success 'ultimate goal' after spending entire career in minors

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- Jared Bednar always believed he eventually would get an opportunity to reach the NHL as a coach, something that never happened for him as a player.

Bednar, 44, who was hired as Colorado Avalanche coach Aug. 25, was formally introduced in the locker room at a Pepsi Center news conference Wednesday. He replaces Patrick Roy, who resigned Aug. 11 as coach and vice president of hockey operations.

A defenseman during a nine-season minor-league career, Bednar coached 14 seasons, six as coach and eight as an assistant, in the American Hockey League and ECHL. He was 251-158-42 and won two league championships, with the Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters of the AHL in 2016 and the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL in 2009.

"I haven't been in a rush to get to this point in my career," Bednar said while sitting next to Avalanche president Josh Kroenke and general manager Joe Sakic. "I always viewed it as trying to improve as a coach and kind of hone my craft along the way. I've been confident in my ability to do that. I've been coaching with a lot of great people in this business, moved around a lot through the minor leagues. I was hopeful this opportunity would come.

Video: Avalanche introduce Jared Bednar as next head coach

"To me, this is just another step. Coaching the Avalanche isn't the be-all and the end-all for me. It's the success that I want to have, and I want our team to have here in Denver. That's the ultimate goal. I think that getting here is certainly achieving something, but it's what you do when you're here that's more important."

Bednar drove from his Cleveland home in his truck, he said, "because I had some stuff I wanted to bring [and] to give me some time to think." His wife, Susan, stayed behind with their two children, son Kruz and daughter Savega, who have started school.

It's probably just as well, because Bednar has a heavy workload before training camp begins Sept. 23. He has plenty of video to study and will have cram sessions with assistants Tim Army, Dave Farrish and Nolan Pratt to familiarize himself with his new players.

Bednar also is counting on video coordinator Brett Heimlich, who has started downloading videos for him to watch on his computer.

"That's something I haven't been able to do very much since I got hired because of the move, but that's a big area for me moving forward," Bednar said. "Being able to watch a lot of it on my own and then sitting down with [his assistants], especially next week when I've seen a lot more of it. There's going to be definite changes and I want to know what [the players] are used to so if things are going on on the ice maybe they're in habits that they're used to and I want it done a different way. And just to familiarize myself with players in certain situations, specialty teams and whatnot."

Sakic interviewed Bednar on the recommendation of assistant general manager Chris MacFarland, who previously had the same position with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Bednar coached the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliates the past two seasons, the Springfield Falcons in 2014-15 and the Monsters last season.

Video: Sakic talks about new coach Jared Bednar

"He brought his name to the table and I value his opinion, but after the interview process {with several candidates] I went away for a few days to reflect by myself," Sakic said. "I did my own homework, [made] my own phone calls. Jared Bednar is the one I decided on, obviously, with the help of some GMs and some friends that did know him, played against him. I had a lot of input about him and other candidates from a lot of people around the League.

"To a man, everybody said the same thing: He's a very demanding coach, but he's fair with the players as well. They're going to know exactly what he expects and I'm excited to see this team react to his style."

Bednar has a challenge on his hands. The Avalanche went 39-39-4 last season and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity and I want to make these guys that hired me proud," he said. "I think we have a great staff, I think we can accomplish great things if we all come together. Who was here before me, I have a lot of respect for Patrick Roy, I watched him playing growing up and I watched him coach. Now it's my turn to try and carry out the tradition here, build on the tradition that this organization has."

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