“Coach’s Hell”

Denver-Riding all the long buses, playing 3 nights and 3 games in 3 different cities, honing his skills to minors all in the middle of the night and early in the morning.

Lay the foundation for pursuing the ultimate goal.

This was the culmination of long, often difficult roads for Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar.

When the clock finally reached zero, Bednar turned left and shared a special moment with Norumprat, who had been staffing as an assistant coach for the past 11 seasons.

Bednar and Pratt collaborate through three different cities and two different leagues, starting with the American Hockey League’s Springfield Falcons, moving to Lake Erie Monsters as a major affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and finally graduating to the NHL. I did. Avalanche for the 2016-17 season after Patrick Roy suddenly resigned in late August.

At the Amalie Arena on Sunday night, Bednar and Avalanche won the Stanley Cup by defeating Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1.

“It’s hard to put into words. Everyone says it,” Pratt said on the ice during the celebration. “I grabbed his head and said,’This is beautiful.’ All the staff were hugging. But really, it was just a beautiful moment, and you just step back and try to enjoy it for a moment. Just seeing the cup pop up once in a while, you’re like, “Oh, we did it.” It’s a great run. “

Bednar immediately thanked the aftermath of this greatest achievement. This was about 20 years after his friend and former teammate Jason Fitzsimmons persuaded him to retire as a hard-nose defense to become ECHL’s South Carolina Stingray assistant coach. ..

“They all feel great, believe me, but this is the best feeling. Definitely.” Bednar became the first head coach to win a title in all three leagues. “Whenever I have a chance and opportunity to win a championship, it’s worth it. I’m very happy to be able to reach that goal.

“It’s all a kind of blur. We’ve been working on this for a long time, so I’m distrustful. I love the fact that people are ultimately rewarded for their efforts. It feels great. “

Bednar is too humble to participate in the conversation, but the efforts of this Saskatchewan product have paid off.

If Joe Sakic, Avalanche’s general manager, did not show confidence in Bednar after his first 48-point season as head coach, this could have been a one-off situation.

Instead, Sakic worked to improve the roster and stuck to Bednar for the same reason he hired him.

On Sunday night, Bednar assured his name to be imprinted on the Stanley Cup. In his sixth season, he had already established himself as one of the smartest coaches in the NHL and was able to match his wisdom with John Cooper in the finals.

Winning the championship is nothing new to Bednar, who had already led Stingray to the ECHL crown in 20009 and monsters to the AHL title in 2016.

“He won the Kelly Cup, Calder Cup and Stanley Cup,” Sakic said. “He is very proud of what he is doing. It is special to see him rewarded. He is a great person, a great coach and the players believe in him. He was just the right coach, the way he wanted to play (to us), the group we played in his style. They all believe in each other. “

Avalanche assistant GM Chris McFarland was part of the Blue Jackets organization when Bednar was hired, and when Sakic interviewed Roy’s successor candidate, he played an important role in communicating good words. Played.

“I definitely believe in Jared because I was around him,” McFarland said. “He connected with people, not only from a tactical point of view, with players of all levels I’ve ever experienced, and translated when Joe (Sakic) interviewed him, really good about him. I have a way. He’s just getting better every year.

“He wasn’t in a hurry, even when we were in Springfield. He didn’t want to jump (to the NHL) as an assistant coach. He always headbenched himself. He took a step forward for the baby, and now he has been rewarded and has done a great job for us. He believes in what he is doing and in everyday life. Just be there, just grind. He has a great way for the player to press the right button at the right time. He’s fair and it comes up with how he treats the player. . “

Avalanche finished this remarkable run with a record of 16-4, and what’s amazing is that they never lost a series of games-Nashville Predators and Western Conference Finals in the first round. With St. Louis Bruce, who swept the Edmonton Oilers and played six games in the second round.

Through these playoffs, Bednar can instill a high level of belief and introduce a structure that includes a serious defense effort while allowing the team to play at an enthusiastic pace while demonstrating a high level of creativity. I was able to do it.

“He was solid all year round,” said Jack Johnson of Avalanche Defense, who won the first Stanley Cup in the 15th season. “Things don’t always go well all year long during the playoff series, but he’s always been a stable force for us. In the room, in fact, everything. He’s always as a coach. I’m in good shape. “

“He allows players to be their own and doesn’t put too much restrictions on his structure,” said Nazemkadri, an excellent avalanche center under the guidance of Bednar this season. “He allowed us to play, read and react freely and it’s working. He’s a great person. The boys fought hard for him, And now we are champions.

“Athletes and coaches, they are no different. (Journey) You will want to be more at that moment, it will make you thank it, and it will make you more thankful.”

This is about Bednar.

He has definitely evolved as he has refined his skills over the years, but his basic beliefs have not changed. That’s one of the reasons he led the avalanche to this championship.

“The first year at the NHL was tough together,” Pratt said. “When you are experiencing it, you are afraid of it, but you look back on it and in a sense thank you that we had to experience the story- And still the staff who got the opportunity to keep doing us. “

Bednar has the innate ability to connect with his player and has one quality among all the others that allowed him to put his mark.

“I’ve heard someone say he’s a player coach and he has an old-fashioned way of thinking, but at the same time he’s a very modern coach in his relationship,” Pratt said. Told. “The only thing Jared has-and I admit I’m still learning it-he has incredible patience, when to push throughout the season and playoffs, when to back off. I know how to balance.

“His strength is his patience. He knows when to put pressure when needed and when to pull back a little. He’s raising the bar through all that. What’s happening? It didn’t matter. It was a similar attitude and was reflected in our team. “

That attitude is suitable for this talented, but hard-working group of individuals who killed the playoff dragon by defending the two-time Stanley Cup champion-erasing the heartache of the exit of three consecutive second rounds. increase.

“He really doesn’t change. Whether he wins or loses, he has the same attitude. He has the attitude of that laid-back player coach, but he hammers when needed. You can put it down, “said Eric Johnson of Avalanche Defense, the longest-serving member of the team-and the man’s captain Gabe Landeskog handed over the Stanley Cup first.

“He formed us into a team that plays hard for each other. It’s not easy to rebound from what we rebounded. It has a lot to do with him. Without him I We wouldn’t have been standing here now.

“What a coach. Didn’t he win the ECHL Championship, the AHL Championship, and now the Stanley Cup Championship five years after we last died in the league? It’s the coach’s hell. “

It is certainly so.

“Coach’s Hell”

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