DENVER (AP) — The shock and surprise of Patrick Roy’s departure is wearing off.
Now it’s time to get back to business for the Colorado Avalanche, who open training camp Friday under first-time NHL coach Jared Bednar after Roy’s stunning decision to walk away last month.
“Everybody in here liked (Patrick),” said defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who signed with the Avalanche in July 2015 partly because of Roy. “We were happy. But we didn’t have the success we wanted to.”
The Avs are coming off a season in which they missed the playoffs for a second straight year . Their offseason moves basically consisted of bringing in center Joe Colborne and defenseman Fedor Tyutin, along with signing defenseman Tyson Barrie (four years, $22 million) and forward Nathan MacKinnon (seven years, $44.1 million).
Of course, there was also losing their head coach as Roy cited disagreements within the organization for his split.
“I didn’t see it coming at all,” 39-year-old forward Jarome Iginla said. “But at the same time if that was the way he felt, you just move forward. As players, we’re excited now to get the season going and learn some new things and get at it.”
Here’s the quick background on Bednar: He led the Lake Erie Monsters, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, to the 2016 Calder Cup title. The former defenseman played nine seasons of professional hockey but never made it to the NHL until being hired to fill a surprise head coaching vacancy.
Bednar’s still learning about a roster that features a top-notch goaltender in Semyon Varlamov, and scoring threats such as Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and MacKinnon. Bednar will have to wait a little while longer to catch a glimpse of them in person, though, because they’re all playing at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
MacKinnon scored a nifty OT goal to help Team North America win on Wednesday.
“You look at the way those guys are playing there, the way they’re competing, the prominent roles they’re playing, the success they’re having, I’m excited for those guys and the opportunity they have there,” Bednar said. “But we’ll be equally as excited to get them back and join our team.”
Bednar has watched plenty of film of the Avalanche from last season. Enough to get a feel for the strengths (team speed) and weaknesses, which included another sluggish start to the season.
“If we put in the work and come prepared to work with the right habits and we’re doing the right things, paying attention to detail, then we’ll get the results we want down the road — early in the season and later on,” Bednar said.
He still plans on having Landeskog keep the captain’s “C” on his sweater. But other leaders have yet to be determined.
“I expect everyone to take somewhat of a leadership role,” Bednar said. “We all have to lead whether we’re wearing a letter or not.”
The team brought in Rene Bourque on a professional tryout contract. He played 49 games with Columbus last season and had eight points.
“They like the type of player I am and they think I can be a good fit if I show them I can still play in the preseason,” the 34-year-old Bourque said. “I think I do have lots left.”
Colborne joins Colorado coming off his most productive NHL season. He scored 19 goals and had 25 assists for Calgary in 2015-16. The versatile forward knows his way around the Mile High City after playing collegiately for the University of Denver. He was at the rink of his college the day he found out about Roy’s exit.
“There’s so much respect for him throughout this city and throughout the league,” Colborne said. “Sometimes, you have to do things that are for personal reasons. Right now, though, just talking with our new coach, (Bednar) seems like he’s already bought in and ready to go. There’s a lot of excitement among us guys to have him at the helm.”
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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