Colorado Avalanche: Coaching Changes Signal New Direction


The Colorado Avalanche announced that three of their assistant coaches will not be returning next season, signalling a shift in a new direction.

For the Colorado Avalanche, transformative change was necessary after one of the worst NHL seasons in history. After much anticipation since the end of the season, it seems that change has finally arrived.

On Tuesday, the club announced via Twitter that three assistant coaches would not be returning.

This should come as no surprise after such an abysmal season, but comes as a relief to many Avs fans who thought this move would happen sooner.

After Patrick Roy’s abrupt departure last August, Jared Bednar was thrust into the head coaching position with very little time to prepare. Due to his limited time table, he decided to retain the prior coaching staff, with the addition of Nolan Pratt coming earlier in the offseason.

Now, with a trainwreck of a year behind him, it only makes sense that Bednar would want to bring in his own crew. Pratt was his assistant coach back in Lake Erie, so his retention makes sense, but it will be interesting to see who Bednar decides to hire as the team transitions to a new era.

As we wait for new coaching announcements, let’s take a look at the three men departing the organization.

Francois Allaire

Allaire is the only coach I’m actually sad to see go, though it comes as no surprise. Allaire was brought in by his former prodigy, Patrick Roy, to help bring Semyon Varlamov up to an elite level. Varlamov had struggled with consistency over the years, leading to his trade from Washington and questions about his place as a starter.

By all measures, Allaire succeeded. Varlamov was a Vezina Trophy nominee in the #WhyNotUs season that saw the Avalanche win the Central Division. Even Patrick Roy admitted that he would not have won the Jack Adams Trophy without Varlamov stealing game after game.

Allaire is a famed goaltending coach, and he will almost certainly be snatched up quickly by a team with goaltending issues. I could see him fitting well with the Dallas Stars, whose goaltending situation played no small role in keeping them out of the playoffs.

Allaire’s departure was expected, but still stings for a team lacking defensive depth. Hopefully additional offseason moves help compensate for Colorado’s loss of Allaire.

Tim Army

Be it fair or not, Tim Army’s departure absolutely needed to happen. Army joined the team in 2011 as a video coach, and became a full-time assistant the next year. Last year, he served as Bednar’s power play coach, which proved to be a complete disaster.

The Colorado Avalanche power play was the worst in the league, with a dismal 12.6% success rate. While one can’t place all of the blame on Army, it’s clear that whatever scheme he had devised wasn’t working.

It was not uncommon to see the Avs’ power play enter the offensive zone, set up, and then not move around. They would cycle until they could make a pass to Jarome Iginla for a one-timer above the faceoff dot.

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This play became predictable and easy to defend against, as nobody was moving to get open or create space. For whoever takes Army’s place, let us hope his strategies cause a bit more confusion for the defending side, and more success for the Avs.

Army was known for being a ‘Player’s coach’, and notably helped Matt Duchene get over some mental hurdles early in his career. However, with failures such as last year, Army was clearly no longer the right fit for this team.

Dave Farrish

Admittedly, not much is known about Dave Farrish, or what he did as a coach. What we do know is that he played defense in the NHL before becoming an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and finally, the Colorado Avalanche.

When Farrish was hired by Patrick Roy in 2015, he was put in charge of running the defense. However, this only seemed to last a year, as Nolan Pratt seemed to take over this position the year after. Last September, Bednar said Farrish would work in a “support role under Pratt”, which makes it seem like Farrish had outlived his usefulness in the organization.

It remains unclear what role Farrish had in the team’s struggles. He may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it’s clear that Bednar didn’t believe he had a place here.

Moving Forward

As the Colorado Avalanche move forward with the hiring process, it will be interesting to see who they target. They might pursue more assistants who had worked with Bednar previously, or bring in some renowned NHL talent.

If there’s one thing I hope this change improves, however, it’s the power play. While good even-strength hockey is the bread and butter for success, a good power play can be the difference between regulation losses and taking a game to overtime.

Many are the times we’ve seen the Avs fail to capitalize during a 5-on-3, sometimes even failing to register a shot. This is unacceptable, and change in this area is beyond necessary.

Next: Important Offseason Dates

It’s sad to see people lose their jobs, but a change was necessary in Avalanche territory. It’s nice to see it finally happen.