Last weekend, the Avalanche announced a two-year contract renewal for head coach Jared Bednar. Fan response has been a mixed bag, with some hoping that Bednar can turn his multiple playoffs runs into a Stanley Cup and others waiting for general manager Joe Sakic to learn his lesson the hard way.
As such, there’s a division of opinion when it comes to Bednar. Some see his three consecutive playoff runs as a positive sign that the Avalanche just need a bit longer to return to their 90s and early 2000s dominance. Others point to the fact that Bednar’s teams have dropped the ball three consecutive times in the playoffs.
Last year’s early exit to Vegas was particularly devastating, as it came after a strong two-win start. Colorado fans are hungrier than ever for a push toward a Finals series—especially considering the Avalanche have taken home Stanley Cups in the only two Finals appearances they’ve made.
More fans are diving into hard stats as Colorado’s expanding betting market has stoked interest in prop bets and futures wagers. At the moment, Colorado free bets are available, which are typically used to back an underdog.
With the regular season in full swing, will fans need to back the Avalanche as a dark horse as playoffs approach? Much of that, it seems, will depend on Bednar’s leadership in the coming months. Here are three main arguments surrounding the head coach’s new contract renewal:
The Contract is a Huge Mistake on Sakic’s Part
While Bednar is now one of the longest-running head coaches currently in the NHL, the Avalanche are the first team he’s headed. Prior to joining on in 2016, his best performance as a coach came with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters, who took home a Calder Cup.
Bednar’s first season with the Avalanche was a 48-point disaster. Even when he did push the Avalanche to the playoffs, their efforts fell flat in the second round, consistently. And, to make matters worse, Sakic’s new contract was offered before Bednar promised a better season; at the time of signing, the Avalanche were fifth in the Central Division with a 7-5-1 record.
Worse, Bednar’s working with a solid roster of deep talent. Despite having so many resources, it seems that he can’t find a way to turn his team into Stanley Cup contenders.
Sakic should have waited to renew
Not everyone is sad to see Bednar stay. In fact, many fans are hoping that he’ll prove his skeptics wrong and launch the Avalanche into a Stanley Cup run. Once again, the idea is that Bednar’s done a crack job of assembling a strong team—now, he just needs to make it matter when it counts most.
However, by offering a contract renewal now, Bednar is essentially being taken ‘out of the hot seat’. In other words, will he do everything in his power to transform this season’s team into Stanley Cup champions when he knows he won’t be packing his bags either way? Many think a bit of pressure might have motivated the coach to, finally, pull out all the stops.
Bednar just needs a bit more time
Many like to bring up the fact that Sakic is a patient manager. He wants a lasting change in his franchise, and he’s willing to give Bednar extensions to make that happen. And, to be fair, Bednar’s under a lot of pressure. So, is it, as Bednar suggested in a recent press conference that ‘success is very rarely linear’?
In other words, if Bednar can just get the Avalanche to the playoffs, he might be able to push them to the Finals. Once there, what’s to stop the Avalanche from taking their third trophy?