Colorado Avalanche: Arriving At A New Head Coach

Dec 7, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic fans waves to the crowd before the game against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 7, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic fans waves to the crowd before the game against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

A fictional look inside at how the Colorado Avalanche decided on a Jared Bednar on their new head coach.

“We’ve narrowed it down to three choices: Jared Bednar, Lane Lambert, and Kevin Dineen,” says Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic to his assistant general managers Chris MacFarland and Craig Billington in his office.

“Who?” ask Team President and Governor Josh Kroenke over the phone. Kroenke has been absent during the interview process, spending his time in Los Angeles with the Rams.

A visibly upset Sakic is growing tired of updating Kroenke on the process. He’s told Kroenke about each potential candidate, but Josh seems more concerned with partying with the Rams cheerleaders than he does helping the Avalanche find a new head coach.

“It doesn’t matter. I trust that you three know what you’re doing. Tell me a bit about each coach,” asked Kroenke.

Sakic has already given Kroenke the rundown on all three candidates but knows he must refresh his memory.

“Jared just won the Calder Cup with the Lake Erie Monsters,” says Sakic, who is almost immediately cut off by Kroenke. “We won the Calder Cup?” Kroenke asks, still believing that the Monsters are the farm team of the Avalanche, even though the two organizations went their separate ways last year. “Didn’t we try to promote from our AHL affiliate with Joe Sacco? I don’t know if we should go down that road again.”

Sakic just sighed and moved on.

“Lane has been Barry Trotz’ top assistant in Nashville and Washington for the past five years,” says Sakic.

“The guy who can’t make it out of the second round? I know just making it to the second round would be an accomplishment for this team, but I want to bring the Avs back to Stanley Cup glory. A guy who can’t make it to the conference finals as an assistant probably can’t make it to the conference finals as the head coach,” interrupted Kroenke.

Sakic looked at MacFarland and Billington, both of whom covered their face in shame.

Sakic once again ignored Kroenke and continued. “Kevin is an assistant with the Blackhawks and a former head coach with the Florida Panthers.”

Overcome with joy, Kroenke once again cut off Sakic. “That’s our guy. The Blackhawks win Stanley Cups, and we beat the Panthers for our first Cup. I know those two teams.”

Sakic just shook his head.

[recentposts align=”right” thiscategory=”no”]

“Well, it sounds like you three are on the right track. Let me know when you make the announcement. I’ll have the HBO crew film my reaction. Kroenke out.”

Josh clicked out of the conversation. Sakic, Billington and MacFarland shared a smile filled with relief.

MacFarland is the first to speak following the departure of Kroenke. “You know how I feel. I know Jared very well, and he has a proven track record on every level. I believe that he can get this team over the hump, something Patrick couldn’t do. Everyone who has ever played for Jared speaks about their love for him. He plays up-tempo and will utilize the speed of this team. I think it’s a no-brainer.”

MacFarland’s influence over the past year had been well documented by those paying attention. He brought in players and coaches that he knew from the Columbus organization. MacFarland believed in the young players, even if they weren’t always getting it done on the ice. Fans were skeptical of MacFarland and his choices wondering, “What had Columbus ever won?” There was also speculation that it was MacFarland, not Sakic, who pushed Patrick Roy out the door as Sakic started trusting the opinions of MacFarland more than Roy.

Billington liked Bednar but felt that Lambert might be the way to go.

“I think it’s risky going with a coach with no NHL experience. Lambert has never been a head coach in the NHL, but he’s been the top assistant to one of the best coaches in the leagues. Lane would bring a defensive mindset and personal accountability to the team. You don’t spend that much time with Barry Trotz and not learn a thing or two about coaching at this level.”

Sakic was leaning towards Dineen, the most qualified of the three candidates.

“What about Kevin? He has head coaching experience in the NHL and won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks and Coach Q last season. I think these guys need a voice that knows what it takes to win at this level.”

MacFarland wasn’t going down without a fight for Bednar.

“Kevin and Lane are great candidates, but how much does experience really matter anymore? Jon Cooper had no NHL experience, and he’s done pretty well with a Lightning team that is similar to the team we have. Jared is only 44 and has a young hockey mind. Other coaches and past experiences don’t influence him and his decision making.  He knows what it takes to succeed in today’s game. Joe, you won a Cup with Marc Crawford and Bob Hartley, two guys who had no NHL experience prior to coaching the Avalanche. They had a fresh take on the game and saw it for what it was becoming, not what it was. That’s how Jared thinks.”

Sakic became intrigued. It’s no secret that Joe was unhappy with the way the Avalanche were performing over the past two seasons. He loved Patrick, but the team played a losing style under him. Roy approached the game from an old school mindset, refusing to buy into advanced stats. Would Dineen fall under that same spell? And just how much influence and input did Lambert have working under Trotz? Jared had proven himself in the AHL, bringing a title to Cleveland a week before LeBron James. If he can win in Cleveland, he can win anywhere.

[nextpost teaser=”Colorado Avalanche Coach is for the Interim” url=””]

Sakic had made his choice. And the Colorado Avalanche were about to embark on a new journey with a new head coach.