Malcolm Cameron is told that Jared Bednar was called a “Ken Doll” in a Denver paper not too long ago, and Cameron nearly convulses with laughter at that description.
“Jared cleans up well and my wife recently got on me for not wearing suits as nice as his. But he ain’t no Ken Doll,” Cameron said. “He used to have the flannel cutoff shirts and the jeans with holes in them and work boots on. He could dress down pretty good too. He was as tough as nails. He’s the toughest guy I’ve ever played or coached with. If I was in a dark alley and in some trouble, Jared would be the No. 1 guy I’d want with me. Because, I know we’d both walk out.”
Malcolm Cameron was both a teammate and roommate of Jared Bednar’s back in 1993-94 with the Huntington (West Virginia) Blizzard, an expansion ECHL team that was, uh, not good. The Blizzard went 14-49-5, with Bednar playing 66 games on defense and Cameron 68 as a right wing. Bednar, according to hockeydb.com, was a -82 that season, and Cameron a -72.
There might not have been much fun on the ice, but Cameron and Bednar had fun off it. They roomed together, along with four other guys, in a “really cool campus house”, Cameron said.
The Jared Bednar of today is a family man, son of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police offer from Saskatchewan. He’s got that military cut and looks like an FBI guy probably more than a Ken Doll.
But the Jared Bednar of 30 years ago?
“He loved grunge music. Pearl Jam, Counting Crowes, Nirvana, all the stuff. He was so laid back,” Cameron said. “He also loved Western movies. His all-time favorite was Young Guns. He loved Dirty Steve Stephens.”
Cameron and Bednar actually started the 1993-94 ECHL season with a team in Greensboro, N.C., but were both traded in training camp the same day to Huntington. The team was to play a preseason game in Columbus, Ohio, and Bednar asked the cab driver, on the way to a game, how the team was doing.
“Last night was better,” the driver said. “They only lost 19-0. If you could have seen the look on Jared’s face! As soon as we got to the rink, he started making calls to get out of there. I basically tackled him and said, ‘you’re not leaving.’ We were friends from the get-go.”
When the Avs swept the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 last week, he got a text from Cameron.
“Ten minutes later, he texted back,” Cameron said. “That’s kind of the bond we have. The first time I ever went over to his place in Charleston, S.C. (where Bednar’s main residence is) I got to try deep-fried turkey for the first time.”
When Cameron and Bednar went out to a local watering hole after practice one day in Huntington, lunch turned into almost dinner, when a new waitress came to start her shift at 5. It was a woman named Susan, and she and Bednar have been together ever since.
“I was the matchmaker!” Cameron said. “He was quite taken with her.”
Bednar won a Kelly Cup as ECHL champion as coach in 2009, and beat Cameron’s Florida Everblades team in Round 2.
“I think we outshot ’em something like 58-14 in the final game, but they beat us,” Cameron. “Jared is a great coach. I think it’s because, one thing with guys like Jared, they don’t take the job for granted. Guys like us, who rodes the buses in the minors, you really appreciate it when you get to the big seats.
“I couldn’t be prouder of him and what he’s done, what he’s doing,” Cameron said. “Tampa is about a two-hour drive from where I live, so I hope to touch base with him when they get here, maybe watch a practice or something. I know it’ll feel like no time has gone by if I see him.”