SEATTLE — Shortly before the Avalanche met the Seattle Kraken Friday night, the Avs announced head coach Jared Bednar had signed a two-year contract extension, taking him through the 2023-24 season.
In his sixth season as Patrick Roy’s successor, Bednar, 49, ranks fifth in NHL coaching seniority in current positions. He’s behind only Jon Cooper of Tampa Bay, Paul Maurice of Winnipeg, Jeff Blashill of Detroit, and Mike Sullivan of Pittsburgh.
The Avalanche are 191-154-40 under Bednar and Colorado has made the playoffs the past four seasons.
Yet the three consecutive second round playoff defeats — including a collapse against Vegas last season after winning the first two games of the series — has taken some of the luster off the Bednar tenure.
Going into the game against the Kraken, Bednar needed only two more win to tie Bob Hartley’s 193 wins. Three will make him the Avalanche’s all-time winningest coach.
In the news release announcing the extension, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said: “Jared has established himself as one of the top coaches in the NHL. He is a great leader who has the complete trust of our players and staff. Under his guidance our team has continued to make great strides and improve every year. We know he is the right person to help us take that next step and compete for a Stanley Cup.”
Sakic is scheduled to meet with Colorado writers covering the Kraken-Avalanche game at Climate Pledge Arena after the first period to briefly discuss the extension.
Bednar, the Saskatchewan native, hadn’t played or coached in the NHL when he was the August 2016 selection to replace Roy, whose surprise resignation came shortly before the opening of training camp.
Bednar spent most of his journeyman playing career with South Carolina of the ECHL.
He got his coaching start with the Stingrays as an assistant, then head coach.
He hoisted the ECHL’s Patrick J. Kelly Cup both as a Stingrays player and coach. The eventual irony there was that Kelly also hadn’t played in the NHL, but was hired as coach of a Colorado NHL franchise — the Rockies — in 1977. But Kelly lasted in the job only one full season and part of a second.
Continuing to climb, Bednar was an AHL assistant before getting the head coaching position with the Peoria Rivermen, the St. Louis Blues’ AHL affiliate.
The Blues didn’t renew his contract in 2012, though.
He retreated to serve as an AHL assistant for the Blue Jackets’ organization before again climbing back into the AHL head coaching spot and then winning a Calder Cup with the Cleveland-based Lake Erie Monsters. That got Sakic’s attention and he chose Bednar to step in for Roy, bypassing other bigger-name candidates.
The Avalanche’s dreadful 48-point season got Bednar’s NHL career off to a rough start, but Sakic stuck with him.
And he’s demonstrating his faith again.