Colorado Avalanche: Benching and Calling Out Yakupov the Wrong Move

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 19: Goaltender Carter Hutton
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 19: Goaltender Carter Hutton /

Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar benched Nail Yakupov for over half a game and called him out in the press. This was ineffective management.

After the Colorado Avalanche’s loss to the St. Louis Blues last Thursday, emotions were high. They got even higher when the NHL announced the next day that they’d blown the call and shouldn’t have disallowed the game-tying goal. Anyway, water under the bridge.

After the game, coach Jared Bednar had some… critical remarks to make. He pointed out, justifiably, that players had made some “bonehead” plays. He also remarked that he thought a couple of those plays cost the game, adding, “Those weren’t really young mistakes. They were made by guys that have been here.”

That’s also pretty justifiable. There were defensive breakdowns all up and down the lineup and a few blown chances.

Later, Bednar added the following:

"“We had a couple passengers that we stopped playing.”"

Avs insider Adrian Dater, who had previously noted that forward Nail Yakupov had been sitting on the bench for a while, asked if Yakupov was one of the passengers. Bednar replied, “He was one of them, yeah.”

Yakupov didn’t play a single minute in the third period. He only played three shifts in the second. He recorded just 8:11 of playing time — and that included after both Tyson Jost (lower body) and J.T. Compher (broken thumb) went out with injuries.

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I’m not saying it was wrong to bench Yakupov. I saw some lapses from him, but I also saw some hard playing — same as most players that night. So I’m not sure why Yakupov got benched for the rest of the game while others did not.

Especially once Jost and Compher went out with injuries.

I think it would have made more sense to bench Yakupov for a few shifts, maybe the whole second period. You could them tell him what you wanted to see in his game and give him a shift or two in the third to correct his mistakes. If he doesn’t, you yank him again.

As it stands, Yakupov was benched for more than half the game and will have had to wait four days to redeem himself. Where’s the lesson in that?

I don’t agree with calling him out in the press at all. Say there are passengers and players who made bonehead moves. If a reporter asks a specific, just state it was more than one player, which is the truth.

Good management doesn’t involve embarrassing people in public. That never makes them feel better and wanting to do a good job.

What’s more, why would it be effective in Yakupov’s case? He’s had plenty of people calling him out publicly — what’s so different this time?

Nail Yakupov has been facing being called a first-overall bust his entire career. He’s been called every kind of inadequate by Edmonton Oilers media, coaches and fans, and to a lesser degree their St. Louis counterparts.

Hells, TSN broadcaster Ray Ferraro once described Nail Yakupov’s playing style as looking like “he’s being chased by bees” because he appears to be doing a lot, but nothing ever happens. Ferraro adds the following:

"“You could give me five names and I’ll find one for sure that I’m more interested in than Yakupov.”"

Is getting benched and being called a “passenger who didn’t come to play” going to change anything? Is it going to sting more than those previous insults?

If so, that’s bad because Yakupov is just eight regular season games into being an Avalanche. At one point he was leading the team in scoring. What’s the point of beating him down because he had a bad game? (In reality, I just saw a bad period — the second.)

This is a player who’s just been finding his groove with his new team. He found chemistry with center Matt Duchene — and he had remarked in a previous interview that he performed well when he developed chemistry with a specific center.

If getting benched and called out doesn’t affect Yakupov, then what’s the point? Discipline is only effective if it works.

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The Colorado Avalanche are going to make some line changes for the upcoming game against the Dallas Stars — injuries are forcing them to. I hope Yakupov gets put on the line with Duchene again.

Benching Yakupov for over half the game and calling him out in public was bad on Bednar’s part. Hopefully Nail can prove himself able to get past the blip. And hopefully Bednar gives him the opportunity.