The Colorado Avalanche have been through a lot in the past 21 years since their last Stanley Cup appearance. Even in the past seven years. Fan favorite Patrick Roy had just left the team, and Jared Bednar came in. After winning the Calder Cup in the 2015-2016 season with Lake Erie Monsters, he was brought on as a rookie substitute for the team and a living hockey legend.
That’s like being the warm-up squad for Nirvana in 1991.
Bednar said something interesting about his team at the start of this year’s playoffs – his sixth with the team.
“It’s not about vanity,” he said.
This may seem like a well-established dogma now, but at the time, the Avs were a healthy team. Some players, like Jack Johnson and Alex Newhawk, played most of the regular season but are now healthy scratchers. Undoubtedly, this may annoy both players. It may be the cause of some internal grumbling.
But, perhaps taking the initiative as Bednar dictated it, no one complained. Currently, both are playing a regular turn again for a team that leads 1-0 in the Stanley Cup Final over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Injuries occurred, so it was the position of the “next man” in the locker room.
No arrogance. No stars. Just a team. Bednar established it as a Team Declaration of Principles, if you will. It is not a new concept. Every coach wants that.
But do you want to get a team—especially one full of high-paid professionals—to put their egos aside? Easier said than done. But Bednar, up to this point, has done so.
“The first thing I talked about when I got here was the team’s selfless attitude first. That’s not easy for seven months out of the year,” Bednar said after Game Four of the Western Conference Finals, this number one. It has meetings with young people, and difficult meetings, all our employees do it just to be an honest evaluator of themselves and myself.”
If there’s one thing championship teams have in common, it’s the “acquisition” of team culture. The team is heading in the same direction with the same goal. Personal agendas and personal agendas are put together for the greater good of the team.
In 2017, Matt Duchenne wanted to get out of Denver. He was ready to leave and start a new chapter of his life, as well as an avalanche. This was the building block for bringing men who wanted to part of the Colorado Avalanche.
They were first articulated in the visiting locker room at Barkley Center, when my boss, Adrian Dater, posed these questions to Eric Johnson right after the game against Islanders where Duchene was traded with Ottawa Senators, in the first period.
Some of the guys from the locker room – many of them, actually – aren’t with Avs anymore. But a new leadership core was established from that day forward. Gabe Landskog remained the captain, but that would be more than Nathan McKinnon Team Now too. Mikko Rantanen’s team will be more. In the next thirty-two years, men like Kal Makar, Devon Touse and Nazim Qadri will fill the most talented leadership group that surrounds them. There will be more setbacks along the way, with last year’s shocking loss to Vegas in the second round, after leading 2-0 in the series, the primary between them. But the team is back in training camp, ready from day one, and there they are, after just three Stanley Cup wins.
It’s not nearly perfect, mind. Three more difficult and difficult victories must be achieved. But this is a team that, as Johnson said in the video above, is now all “rowing in the same direction.”
“I think our team in general is very selfless and no one really thinks about their own things, after about 60 minutes or whatever it takes to win,” Rantanen said, “This is what we are working towards and everyone is doing their best to achieve that goal in every game.” individual. He’s right about that.”
With the group’s core group, committed and led by example. It was easy for new players to hop on the train and understand what it means to be a Colorado Avalanche. This season, the avalanche has taken over Nico Storm, Darren Helm, Arturi Likonen, Andrew Cogliano, Nicholas Op-Koppel and Josh Manson. Everyone on this team contributed in one way or another during the last playoff round.
Aube-Kubel and Sturm were in and out of the lineup but save grit down six. Likonen has scored six goals so far including an overtime goal to send Avalanche to the Stanley Cup Final. Manson was a hero for a game or two as well while playing the goalkeeper’s one-second in the second round against the St. Louis Blues and has six points during these playoffs.
Helm scored by hitting the bell to eliminate the Blues in the second round.
“I think everyone has a voice in our locker room,” said Toews, who joined the squad in the summer of 2020 after what now appears to be one of the best NHL deals in the last 10 years, by Joe Sakic. “The guys who came off the trade deadline have a voice and are part of this team and have felt like they’ve been part of this team for five to six years already. So I think everyone pulls the ‘same rope’.
The definition of culture is “The set of common attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterize an institution or organization” The Colorado Avalanche had one goal and that was to be in the position they are in now. They are facing the best and they will have to beat the best. The plan put into action six years ago with Bednar has received the approval it needs. The avalanche achieved three more victories.
It may not happen yet.
But Lightning will have to beat a team that’s all rowing in the same direction.