Colorado Avalanche: Ryan Graves Proponents United Against Bednar

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 20: Ryan Graves #27 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Winnipeg Jets at the Pepsi Center on February 20, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Jets 7-1. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 20: Ryan Graves #27 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Winnipeg Jets at the Pepsi Center on February 20, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Jets 7-1. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Colorado Avalanche fans want to see the youngsters get a chance, but Jared Bednar keeps returning to the veterans.

Colorado Avalanche fans are starting to see the shine come off of Jared Bednar. And the catalyst is an unlikely one — rookie defenseman Ryan Graves.

It’s not so much that the young Nova Scotian is such a polarizing topic. Rather, Bednar continues to bench him despite the 23-year-old’s success at the NHL level. He put in the work he was asked to do at the AHL level, both for the New York Rangers’ affiliate and for the Avalanche’s once Colorado received him in trade last season for Chris Bigras.

Indeed, according to the Denver Post, Bednar stated Graves had a good training camp, and he expected Ryan to be the first call-up from the Eagles. He got his first chance in December, and he’s been up and down between the two teams. When Ian Cole went down with a case of the stupids — playing dirty in front of known tough guy Tom Wilson and hereby paying the price — Ryan got his shot proper.

In 20 games total with the Avalanche, Ryan has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists), he’s +5, and has ZERO penalty minutes. He’s not going to dazzle you on the ice, but he’s been solid night in and night out, which is not something all the players can say.
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More. Cole Must be Benched. light

Yet when Ian Cole’s face healed enough that he could skate around in a fish bowl, Bednar yanked Graves out of the lineup and put the 30-year-old back in. His contribution in those three games amounted to one assists and a whopping 17 penalty minutes — including a five-minute major and game misconduct that tells us he’s not done with the dirty stuff. What’s more, alternate captain Erik Johnson alluded to that five-minute major as a killer to the team’s momentum in his post-game presser.

Yet for tonight’s game, Cole was still in the lineup, and Graves is still benched. And Avalanche fans are fed up with this kind of decision-making on Bednar’s part.

And the inspiration for this post:

It’s not just about Ryan Graves, though. The Colorado Avalanche are in Year 2 of their rebuild. They are meant to be a team built from the ground up out of homegrown talent and the occasional found gem. They are supposed to be promoting a youth movement based at least partially on accountability and earning your spot in the lineup.

But what does that say when a player like Graves has done just that and he’s still benched anyway? What about when it happens to our own draftee?

According to BSN Avalanche, Greer was understandably salty about his demotion considering the 22-year-old had done the best he could with the limited time he had — and he was effective:

"“I’m pissed off. I should be pissed off. Anyone in that situation would be pissed off. I’m not going to take it lightly. I’m going to come here and play pissed off. It’s nothing against them but I don’t want anyone taking my dream away.”"

That quote from the young forward, who was replaced by Derick Brassard (30 years old) resounds when you combine it with Bednar’s remark.

More from Mile High Sticking

It’s about Tyson Jost’s clumsy demotion. By Bednar’s own admission Jost was doing everything asked of him — yet he got sent to Loveland after a disastrous Canadian roadie in which his ice time steadily dwindled (because that’s how you teach youngsters) as if he were to blame for the losses.

And it’s about Cale Makar. You think UMass coach Greg Carvel isn’t watching how development plays out on the Colorado Avalanche? You think the prospect himself isn’t watching, not to mention his parents and anyone else who might advise the young phenom? What does it say to them that hard work is rewarded with benching and demotions instead of the work needed to bring their game to the next level?

Do you think Carvel isn’t going to be savvy enough to try and hold onto his prize defenseman, who is up for the Hobey Baker Award and has been integral in UMass winning their conference? You think he’s not going to point out how he’ll actually work with the youngster?

dark. Next. The Semyon Varlamov Dilemma

You can’t have a coach who keeps returning to his pet veterans again and again, failing to punish their mistakes with benching, when you’re rebuilding around a youthful core. The Colorado Avalanche are treading on dangerous ground here.