He’s read a few books. He’s binge-watched a few TV programs. He’s done some handyman work around the house and spent more quality time with his wife and daughter at their Denver home. Jared Bednar, in other words, has been doing pretty much what the rest of us have been doing in these shelter-in-place times during a global pandemic. But there has been another thing Bednar has had to do: he’s still preparing for the chance, whatever that is, that the Colorado Avalanche’s 2019-20 NHL season will resume this spring or summer.
On a conference call Thursday with reporters, the fourth-year coach of the Avalanche acknowledged that these are, indeed, most peculiar times.
“It’s certainly a difficult time. Like everyone else, we’re in limbo. The uncertainty of the situation is tough to plan for,” Bednar said. “The players and the organization put a lot of hard work into the season. You go through the bulk of the regular season, set goals for your team to compete for the division and have home ice for the playoffs. In an ideal world, we’d like to come in and with the season and play the playoffs.”
But Bednar sounded optimistic that the season will, indeed, resume.
“I’m certainly hopeful that we can. That’s just me. I’m an optimist. I’m hopeful as a society we’re able to overcome this. As a coach, I have to be prepared for us to come back. If it turns out that we get the information that we can’t return, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said.
The Avalanche remains one of only two NHL teams to publicly disclose having had players test positive for COVID-19, three in all so far. Bednar said all three of those players are feeling well now and are back with their families. Bednar said there has been no mandatory testing of the rest of the players on the team, that only players showing symptoms of the virus have been tested.
If the NHL does resume the 2019-20 season this spring or summer, it is assumed that every player competing will need to take a test before being allowed to compete – and that might go for coaches and any other personnel that is in an arena for regular season and/or playoff games. It also appears highly likely that, if the games resume this spring or summer, they will be held in arenas with no fans in the stands.
“That would be different,” Bednar said. “One of the things that makes our game so great is the passion of the fans. I’ve thought about it a little, and it would be hard to describe what it would be like until you had to go through it. You’d have to take it upon yourself as players and coaches, that you brought the emotion with you (without the fans providing some). We love playing in front of our fans at the Pepsi Center, and going into hostile environments on the road and coming out with victories is (satisfying).”
Asked how long it would take for his team to be sharp and back up to speed, Bednar said “two weeks or less – that’s the way I view it.”
He said he’s tried to encourage his players to view this time off as kind of an early summer, off-season kind of thing, where players enjoy the time off while also staying in the best shape they can.
“I’m kind of treating this time similar to the end of a season, going through things we like and what we’d like to improve on. We want to be prepared when we come back. Unlike training camp and preseason games, the games we’d play right after coming back would be very meaningful,” he said. “When we come back and play, it’s going to be a different feeling. The team that can do that most consistently and seamlessly, they’re going to have the most success. We’d like to pick up where we left off. I think our team is a real confident team, and hopefully we get the opportunity to get back and close it out.”