Jared Bednar said the other day that “nobody is going to feel sorry for us” because of all the Avalanche injuries. And that “nobody”, most especially of all, is Jared Bednar.
I took last night’s game off, to reintroduce myself to my wife and son. But I did still watch most of it, and saw Bednar’s postgame presser. While most everybody continues to give the Avalanche “good try, good effort” pats on the back after losses in the wake of all the injuries, you could absolutely sense, at least I could, that Bednar wanted to blow a gasket in that presser but held off.
But even though they were delivered in Bednar’s typically measured, sometimes whispery voice, his words were pretty savage. It is crystal clear, to me anyway, that some players on his current roster are looking and acting too much like they’re just happy to be here. There’s too much of a “participation trophy” feel around this team right now, and Jared Bednar doesn’t do participation trophy culture.
Now, what Jared Bednar does always respect and pay compliment to is when a player works their bag off and fights to the death. But it’s clear he did not think all his guys did that last night, and that’s why he said words like this, when asked about any moral victories his team can take with 11 guys out and a 1-4-0 record in the last five:
“Yeah we’re not gonna do that. If we’re rolling over because it’s too difficult, or we’re losing games, then we need new players. We’ll have to find other guys. We better be playing hard every single night regardless of what we think the outcome is gonna be, regardless if we’re winning or losing. I mean that’s the culture we’ve built here, we’re gonna continue that regardless. And if guys quit and don’t play hard, then we’ll find other players. It’s that simple.”
I would never say an NHL player quit in a game, because I’m not qualified enough to do that. I’m just a reporter, who never played hockey beyond on ponds or backyard rinks in New Hampshire. But if Jared Bednar thinks a player quit out there, well, that’s different. He is qualified to go there.
I personally thought the Avalanche were brutal in those final two periods against Boston last night, and that the effort level seemed, mmm, a little bit short.
That’s something that Bednar absolutely will not tolerate in this current situation. It’s one thing to lose with 11 good players out. It’s another to lose with a “well, we’re missing 11 guys, so we can’t really be expected to win can we?” mentality. Or a “Hey, we put up a pretty good fight for a while, but, really, what hope was there when it got to 2-0 in the second period. Give us our orange slices now, please!” mentality.
No, that won’t wash with Jared Bednar, a guy who worked his bag off every day of his long minor-league career. He’s in the ECHL Hall of Fame now because of that workboot mentality.
He never got the call to play even one game in the NHL from his … wait for it. … 18 years as a junior and minor-league hockey player. Thirteen of those years, he earned a living in the minors, before becoming the FIRST coach in hockey history to win championships at the ECHL, AHL and NHL level.
As he also said last night, it’s a “privilege” to play in the National Hockey League. A lot of guys on this current Avalanche roster are being given the privilege he never got in 18 years of junior and minor-league hockey as a player.
And, you don’t need too strong a pair of glasses to read between the lines of what he said last night, which can be summed up as: Come to practice tomorrow, ready to skate your bags off and stop with the participation-trophy, woe-is-us mentality just because a few guys are missing.
This is some of these guys’ opportunities of a lifetime, to show Bednar how bad they really want to make it. Not just to actually get a call-up and say they put on an NHL uniform once. But, to actually make it.
Practice is at noon today. I hope, for their sake, some of the guys on the current roster drank a few Red Bulls beforehand.