It might have been from a total lack of sleep today, but in general, I will sometimes just ask the Elephant-in-the-room question if nobody else will and see what happens. So, I did that today with Avalanche coach Jared Bednar.
I did not specifically mention the words “Taylor Hall” in the question to him, but for all intents and purposes, I did.
I asked Bednar what his reaction is to a certain “big name out there” being mentioned on a lot of big-time hockey media outlets, like TSN and Hockey Night in Canada, that the Avalanche is being considered as a prime candidate – the odds-on-favorite, if you will – to land a “big name” in what almost surely will be a selloff by the New Jersey Devils before the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline.
What does Bednar do as a coach, when everybody in the hockey world is talking about his team being possibly involved in a big trade? Does he sit players down, who are mentioned as possibly going the other way, and talk with them? How do you handle things as a coach when you already have a really good team, but everybody is predicting your team will be blown up, in a sense, with a really big trade?
“Generally, no,” said Bednar, when asked if he will ever talk to players about ongoing trade rumors.
But, then he added a caveat:
“Unless it’s about our guys. Because, then, if I think I can put their mind at ease in any way…Our message all the time has been ‘let’s take care of what we can control.’ That’s not rumors floating around outside of our inner circle. Being prepared to practice the right way and our habits and all that…players have a big job to do and there’s no rest in the schedule, right? Every day can be mentally tiring, physically tiring…you saw that a little bit in our game last night, coming off a road trip. My advice to them, in general is, ‘take care of what you can control.'”
That makes a lot of sense.
But I can guarantee you some players in the Avs’ room right now are a bit on edge, over the Hall rumors. Anyone who thinks the players “don’t read what’s in the papers” are kidding themselves. They all read it (or, in today’s world, see a social media message about it somehow). Every player thinks of their immediate job security first, and I don’t blame them in the slightest for that. If you have the luxury to make it “all about winning” after that, then you have reached pillar-pantheon status as a player, and hats off to you.
But if you’re a player on the fringe right now and you think you might have to pack your bags for New Jersey in a few days or weeks, how invested are you really in the Colorado Avalanche winning short or long-term? That’s why I’m always fascinated by how players and coaches react to this issue.
A guy like Nathan MacKinnon doesn’t have to worry about with the upcoming trade deadline. But what about some other guys down in the pecking order? Hell, Wayne Gretzky was traded in the prime of his career. It can happen to anyone. Well, not as much in the cap era, but you get my point.
I’m on record, by the way, as believing the Avs don’t need a Taylor Hall.