Colorado Avalanche: Questions for Jared Bednar

My invitation from the Colorado Avalanche to the introductory press conference for new head coach Jared Bednar was lost in the mail, but I still have some questions for the new bench boss.

Being a writer for Mile High Sticking has some definite perks, such as being essentially able to choose whatever topics I like and not having to worry too much about losing my livelihood if I make a mistake, given I don’t get paid for this.

One major disadvantage though is that unlike actual professional hockey writers, I get no access whatsoever to the team I cover, the team’s employees, or the players.

This means that the many questions I have for these people will unfortunately go unanswered.

But that won’t stop me from asking them.

So here are the questions I would like to pose to new Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar:

1. Under Patrick Roy, one the major issues with this team was their tendency to completely change their play style when they had a lead.

The Roy system was somewhat successful when the players were aggressive on the puck, fore-checked hard, and had the defensemen pinch to keep control of the puck down low. When the Avalanche had the lead, however, they played much “safer”, and most frustratingly, took much shorter shifts.

In theory taking shorter shifts is a good thing because it keeps the players from getting fatigued and making mistakes as a result. However, more often than not, these short shifts would mean by the time the Avalanche got control of the puck, they’d just dump it into the opposition zone and change without any real forecheck.

Essentially, unless the Avalanche gained control of the puck right from the beginning of the shift, that shift has almost zero change of generating any offensive control. I believe this to be a major factor in the Avalanche’s poor possession numbers.

This was basically a strategy of repeatedly turning the puck over.

It’s also relevant to note that, having run the numbers I found that some of the team’s best performers when the Avs were behind in the score or tied, like Carl Söderberg and Blake Comeau, were among the team’s worst players when they had a lead. I believe this is because those players success was based on longer shifts and aggressive forechecking.

So with the long preamble out of the way, my question, Coach Bednar, is how if at all, you intend to adjust the team’s playing style in situations in which you are in the lead?

2. Do you plan to evaluate the team’s leadership structure, and if you find it lacking are you open to making any official changes?

Some, including myself, have suggested that Gabriel Landeskog may not be the ideal choice for captain of the Avalanche at this time, and the team may be better served by having someone like Francois Beachemin or even Jerome Iginla take on that role for the short term until the team’s young core has matured and more clear leaders have developed within that group.

3. Patrick Roy liked to generally structure his forward lines with one power forward, one playmaker and one finisher. What is your philosophy on line formation?

Do you like to group players based on play style, body type, skill level, chemistry, or some combination of everything? What factors into your decisions with regards to forward lines?

4. As a follow-up to the previous question, Coach Roy was reluctant to group his best players together on a single forward line, and was in my opinion too slow to create and too quick to break up the Landeskog-MacKinnon-Duchene line.

His reasoning was it allowed the team to focus defensively on that one line to shut down the team’s offense. Do you agree with that reasoning?

5. How closely do you plan to work with the San Antonio coaches?

Being from Toronto, I have closely followed their team development since the arrival of Brendan Shanahan, I one of the things they have done that I really like is that they run the exact same system in the AHL as the do in the NHL. This has allowed them to call up players and have them hit the ground running.

6. How much input would you ideally like the have over player personnel moves? This is especially relevant given that Patrick Roy stated reason for quitting was his lack of control over the roster.

Obviously any head coach is going to be consulted about personnel, but in the future would you like to be given front office responsibilities in addition to your head coaching duties, or are you comfortable coaching whichever players Joe Sakic and the rest of management sign to the team?

Those are the questions I have off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ll have more as the season goes on.

In the meantime, if by some chance you ever read this, welcome to the Avalanche Coach Bednar. I hope you are very successful here.

For anyone else reading this, what would you like Coach Bednar’s answers to be?

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