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Avalanche Locker Room: Johnson Discusses Future, Disappointment of Early Exit, Injury Plagued Season




A visibly emotional Erik Johnson discussed what might have been his last game in a Colorado Avalanche uniform after the disappointing loss to the Seattle Kraken.

Johnson, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Evan Rodrigues discussed the frustration of losing in the first round, as well as how proud they are of a team that battled adversity all season long.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar was the same after the loss, and also talked about how this isn’t the end of the road for the team, as they’re built to win in the future.

Take a look at the video from the four Avalanche players, and read what Bednar had to say.

Bednar on the team going out with a strong effort:

Yeah, no question, we got it. I thought we played a great game tonight. Just didn’t score on some of our chances. They got a lucky bounce on one, we made a mistake on another one. It’s a fine line. But no question, I mean, when I think about this team, I’m really proud of this team. Just the way they played, how hard they played all year long. It was pretty impressive what they’ve overcome. Some years, it’s a little tougher than others, and this was a tough one. I’ve been in the game, at the pro level for quite some time and there’s just a lot of stuff that happened this year that you just can’t plan for and you’re missing key guys throughout the course of the season, and other guys were stepping up and getting the job done. That’s why it’s so disappointing for me. It’s not frustrating at all, I went through that months ago. Disappointing because I wanted our guys, like this group in the locker room, to be able to advance and just keep fighting. Keep giving it their all. That’s what they did all year long, so I don’t have a bad word to say about those guys in there. They were great all year.

Bednar on the last hurrah for some of the older guys:

Yeah, I haven’t even thought that far. But, I mean, when you get older guys that play their butts off for you, old, young, doesn’t matter, but even more for the older guys because you don’t know how many opportunities you’re still going to get, if they’re going to be with us or not. You know, all the guys on expiring contracts. But you get to know these guys, and see how much they put into the game and the team on a daily basis, and you want to see them get rewarded for it. It doesn’t always happen. Obviously, it’s very tough to win, but that was the most rewarding thing for us last year, seeing some of those guys get rewarded. This year, obviously, it’s not the case, so there’s some heartbreak again.

Bednar on the Avalanche core being signed long-term:

I mean, you look at the guys that we have that are under long-term deals, and then you sort of watch them perform, probably even more so this year. Obviously, last year, what they did, then you see how they come back this year. It would have been easy for some of those core guys to get frustrated a little bit this year. They’re like me, they get the taste of winning, and they just want it every year, but with winning there’s a lot of things that happen. We have to say goodbye to a bunch of great players that helped us win. They’re rewarded by big contracts in other places, and you can’t keep them all. So you get a little bit of a retool, and then you lose, well for us in the playoffs, you lose two first or second line wingers, and a whole line disappears again. That part, the way they handled it and the way they played and how hard they played and how productive they were through the course of the season and through the playoffs, it’s pretty impressive.

So you feel good moving forward just because you have those guys right away and the leaders that they are, and you know what they’re going to give you. The effort, leadership, and determination that they play with. You add that to their skill level, and their ability, and you give yourself a chance. Now, we’ll have to go and evaluate and have a big offseason and hopefully we can surround those guys with the right mix of players, and health is always a part of it too.

Bednar on Seattle:
The one thing that they were that we weren’t in this series was consistent. When we played great, you know game two, we won. Game three, we won. Game six and game seven, but it’s a seven game series. I’d like to walk away from it knowing that we played great in all seven, and if they beat us, they beat us. That’s what you have to expect this time of year. That’s the one takeaway from the series, but doesn’t change the way I feel about the team and how proud I am of what they accomplished this year, because it was a difficult season.

Bednar on missing Avalanche Captain Landeskog and the ripple effect:

Well, we’ve got great leadership, and he was around and in the room, and doing his thing as much as you possibly can without playing. So that was a benefit for us at the end. Where it gets difficult is, like I said, there’s a cost to winning and you lose a bunch of guys, which was our second line last year. And then kind of lose our second line again. Listen, that’s nothing against the guys we got. I think the world of the guys we have here that are playing. I mean, we can get on them about not enough depth scoring, but those guys are playing their butts off every night and doing whatever they can to help our team succeed.

Bednar on who might have been playing injured:

I think we got a couple guys that have some things lingering. Obviously, Manson. We’ll give you updates on some of those guys. We’ve had some guys deal with some stuff for a while. So yeah, we’ll release it after.

Bednar on Avalanche winger Nichushkin’s absence:

It was another test for our group, is what it was. And we had lots of them. Sometimes life throws things at you, and same with sport. And you got to just keep grinding and overcome them. It is what it is. You got to be resilient, you got to be mentally tough. I think that’s one area that we talked a lot about after a couple of second round exits, like improving our mental toughness and being a team that just kept trudging forward, regardless of our talent level or ability or whose in and out of the lineup. Again, I’m proud of our guys for that, but obviously, every guy that’s out would have helped. But they’re out, and that’s sometimes the way it goes.

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