We’re just a few days away from the Avs training camp opening up at the end of this week and rumor has it that most (if not all) the team is back in Denver and have begun skating in small groups ahead of Sunday’s camp open.
Just days before the NHL announced its official plans to return a couple of weeks ago, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar joined the Blue Line Hockey Club Podcast from his summer home in Charleston, South Carolina to talk about the upcoming season and provide some insight on his team. Bednar, by the way, spends every summer in Charleston, where he played with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays off and on from 1995 to 2002 and then subsequently became a coach of the team from ‘02 to ‘07.
Here are a few takeaways (and clips) from his half-hour chat. (**Note: Push the play button and it will take you directly to the relevant clip):
- Bednar says his team “has a bad taste in our mouth” after how last season finished and his “guys have a little fire in them” and “they’re hungry”:
- He also mentioned that he really hopes fans are allowed back in the stands (at least come playoff time), as it could be the difference for the Avs in the postseason. Bednar says he thinks there’s a realistic chance fans are back at Ball Arena this year.
- The Avs coach once more praised GM Joe Sakic and his staff for their work in adding more depth in what was yet another very successful offseason for the Avalanche.
- Bednar also was asked the question about if he has a say in who Sakic goes after in free agency or the NHL Draft and provided some pretty interesting insight on that:
- He adds that depth is going to be important with this season being a five-and-a-half-month sprint. Injuries are bound to happen in a condensed season and he says he might test taxi squad members and could rotate them in and out of the lineup based on injuries and whatnot. He says the team wasn’t “durable” in the playoffs last year, in what was a similarly condensed schedule. Only difference is, this year there will be travel, and with travel comes less rest time. Less rest time means less recovery time. Less recovery time means more injuries. Simple sports math.
- Speaking of being durable…Bednar talked Avs goaltending and said he and his staff took a look at their netminders’ training programs in order to hopefully avoid some of those injury woes the two goalies faced last season, mirroring what he told us during the final Zoom call of the season. Their staff spoke with the goalies’ trainers as well.
- On Saad: “He’s another big-body guy that can come in and skate and play with the pace our team plays with and give us a little sturdiness in our top-6.”
- Bednar mentioned he thinks Devon Toews is a guy who can pair up well with Cale Makar this season
- He singled out Shane Bowers as a guy that “looked really good in the (playoff) bubble” as one of the black aces and “we’ll get a good look at him (and the other young guys) as camp gets started.” Bowers could be a guy who lands on the taxi squad this season. I think it’s a slim chance, however, though if injuries occur, he could be brought up to the taxi team. More on my taxi squad predictions in a Scott Takes later this week.
- Byram “could push for a roster spot on our team.” I still think he gets the six games and then hits the taxi squad though.
- Bednar is a big hunter (remember this beauty?) and it’s his preferred method of decompression. He says he went elk hunting in Colorado the first week after the season ended and shot a bull. He says the one good thing about the season’s delay is that he’s got to enjoy plenty of hunting and fishing in South Carolina during the fall hunting season, a time in which he’s normally not in Charleston and instead coaching in Colorado. It’s currently deer season in South Carolina, by the way, and he says he’s recently tagged a White Tail buck.
- While most players take this time to work on their golf game in the offseason, Bednar says his game has taken a “nosedive.”
Bednar and the boys begin training camp on January 3rd before opening the season at Ball Arena against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 13.