The Colorado Avalanche were premature in extending coach Jared Bednar’s contract so early in the season.
The Colorado Avalanche have extended coach Jared Bednar’s contract by two seasons. According to the contract, he should be the coach through the 2023-24 season.
The extension was premature.
At the time of the signing, the Avalanche were 191-154-40 under Bednar. With the win against the Seattle Kraken, he’s just two wins away from being the winningest coach in Avalanche history. Sounds like the opposite of the title of this post, eh?
Not really. Professional sports is a world of what have you done for me lately.
Well, to answer that question, at the time of the signing, the Avalanche were off to a 7-5-1 start on the season. That record put them at fifth place just in the Central Division! That’s not exactly an auspicious beginning to yet another season in which the Avs were supposed to be the Cup favorites.
What’s more, how they got to that record was problematic. In many of their losses, they were simply out-played. That’s a leadership issue, and a team’s head coach is a main leader.
This is a team that has four top stars in their prime. This is also a team that’s supposed to be at the epitome of their conditioning, especially at the beginning of the season. This is also a team that’s supposed to be a well-oiled machine under a coach they’re well-familiarized with.
Granted, with the win against the expansion-team Kraken, Colorado seems to be on the right track again. However, you’ve got to hope that those first bakers’ dozen of games won’t come back to haunt them at the end of the season when they’re jostling for playoff positioning — or even the playoffs themselves.
Speaking of the playoffs, there lies another reason the Bednar extension seems premature. True the team has made the playoffs the last four seasons. However — and this is a massive caveat — the last two seasons saw them exit second round when they looked so sure to challenge for it all. And the series against Vegas last year was especially atrocious, seeing how the team fell apart.
And you could once again point the finger at leadership, especially coaching.
A couple weeks ago, longtime Denver sports writer Terry Frei published a post telling Avs fans who wanted Bednar fired to “give it a rest.” Once the extension was announced, he reiterated his commitment to Bednar with a post about how it was “the right thing to do.” He disdains the idea that Bednar’s job was ever in jeopardy — or even should have been.
Horse pucky. Considering GM Joe Sakic stated the contract was in the works since the preseason, obviously Bednar’s job never was in jeopardy. But I say it should have been.
I’m not saying he should have been fired or that he should be fired this season if the team doesn’t make a better showing of themselves. However, there is a wide divide between being on the hot seat and having your job secured for an additional two more seasons. And the Colorado Avalanche decidedly crossed then burned the bridge between the sides with the extension.
Jared Bednar’s job should have remained at least technically on the line for the remainder of the 2021-22 season, including whatever playoffs the team mustered. He should have understood that the final year of his current contract — also an extension — was the standard “show-me” situation.
Professional sports is the most competitive world there is. Even the minutest of edges can spell the difference between the ultimate glory and ignominious defeat. A coach feeling the heat of the hot seat with his job on the line may well have been that edge.
Unfortunately, the Colorado Avalanche may have dulled that edge with the extension. Here’s to hoping job security gives Bednar the hunger to take this team all the way to the Cup finals.