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Jared Bednar hired as Avalanche coach

Replaces Patrick Roy after winning Calder Cup with Lake Erie of AHL

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- Jared Bednar was named coach of the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

"I was certainly happy to be considered and I'm ecstatic to have been named head coach and I'm looking forward to getting to work," the 44-year-old said. "When I started coaching, my ultimate goal was obviously to get to the NHL and to coach at the highest level and getting an opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup. That was my goal going into it and I worked real hard trying to achieve those goals, and this is another step in that direction."

Bednar signed a three-year contract to replace Patrick Roy, who resigned as Avalanche coach and vice president of hockey operations on Aug. 11.

Bednar coached Lake Erie (now Cleveland) of the American Hockey League, a Columbus Blue Jackets affiliate, to the Calder Cup championship last season.

A defenseman during a nine-season minor-league career, Bednar has coached 14 seasons, eight as coach and six as an assistant in the AHL and ECHL. He is 251-158-42, including winning the Kelly Cup as ECHL champion with South Carolina in 2009.

"It's something that I take a lot of pride in, something I've worked really hard for, and it hasn't been an overnight thing," Bednar said. "It's taken some time, and all my stops along the way have helped prepare me for this. I take this very seriously, I've been preparing for this my whole career. I'm a competitor, and that's what I put into it on a daily basis and I've worked extremely hard for it. I know that our team will do the same thing. It's one of those things where your preparation and the work you put into it comes back to you."

Video: Jared Bednar on being hired to coach the Avalanche

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic thanked the general managers who gave him permission to interview candidates "at such a precarious time" and said he has no concerns about hiring someone without NHL coaching experience.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday there were three finalists for the job: Bednar, Washington Capitals assistant coach Lane Lambert, and Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen.

"I look around the League and there's a lot of great coaches that have come up through the American Hockey League," Sakic said. "I won two Stanley Cups with coaches that didn't have (NHL) head coaching experience when they came in (Marc Crawford in 1996 and Bob Hartley in 2001). I look at the track record and I place a lot of value in winning championships.

"It's tough to win in any league, and to be able to win you've got to be doing something right. Comfort-wise, I just think this is the best fit for our team and to get them to the next level. The next level is learning how to win, and I believe Jared's going to get them there."

Photo courtesy of Lake Erie Monsters

The Avalanche were 39-39-4 last season and have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs two seasons in a row.

Bednar, who is from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, is the seventh coach in Avalanche history and 15th in Quebec/Colorado franchise history. He is the first Colorado coach without previous ties to the organization, following Crawford, Hartley, Tony Granato, Joel Quenneville, Joe Sacco and Roy.

Sakic said he interviewed "a different variety of candidates with different paths, different visions."

"From talking to a lot of different people, he's a very demanding coach but fair to the players, and the players respect him," Sakic said of Bednar. "The way he likes his team to play the game, I just think it's going to be a good fit for our group."

Video: Elliotte Friedman on Jared Bednar

Bednar said he watched tape of Avalanche games from last season and wants them to play an up-tempo, aggressive game all over the ice and to take advantage of their speedy forwards, a group that includes Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon.

"I have a style of play that I think works in today's game," he said. "I think we have to be an aggressive team. The game's getting faster every day, and I think you have to play an up-tempo style, you have to attack, and that's not just offensively, it's defensively as well.

"It's an exciting group with a group of forwards especially that are dynamic guys, really fast. The League's getting faster every day and we have to put a structure in place to get these guys playing an up-tempo style and have support all over the ice as well and kind of bring the group together and then move forward from there."

Bednar will arrive here next week to attend a formal news conference and to meet with assistant coaches Tim Army, Dave Farrish and Nolan Pratt, who was hired in July off Bednar's Lake Erie staff. Sakic said Bednar will decide on the future of the assistants.

"At the end of the day, you want to surround your coaching staff with the people he's going to work best with," Sakic said. "Obviously he has a relationship with Nolan Pratt, so he knows him. At the end of the day, your coach has to be happy."

Bednar had 47 goals and 152 assists in 582 minor-league games with Huntington and South Carolina in the ECHL, Grand Rapids in the International Hockey League, and St. John's and Rochester in the AHL. He played in the Western Hockey League from 1990-93 with Saskatoon, Spokane, Medicine Hat and Prince Albert.

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