DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado Avalanche Executive Vice President/General Manager Joe Sakic addressed the media on Monday to close out the 2017-2018 season.
The big news was the announcement of a one-year extension for head coach Jared Bednar. The Avs and Bednar initially agreed to a three-year deal to star the 2016-2017 season and last week the two sides agreed to a one-year extension which will keep Bednar with the Avs through the 2019-2020 season.
“He’s done an amazing job,” said Sakic of Bednar’s performance. “We believe in Jared and never wavered.”
The Avalanche completed one of the best single-season turnarounds in NHL history going from 48 points in 2016-2017 to 95 points, and a playoff berth, in 2017-2018. Their 47 point turnaround ties for the 4th best turnaround ever.
“It’s 180 degrees,” said Sakic of where the Avs are this year compared to where they were last season. “We knew last year we had to get through the year to start fresh and we did that. I think the entire organization and the players we were all embarrassed.”
Sakic praised the group of returning players from last year and the group of new players for this season that helped get the franchise back into the playoffs, “I’m really proud of those guys and the new guys that came in and the belief in each other and the will to find ways to win games.”
Sakic also praised the performances of Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog this season.
“He definitely elevated his game this year,” said Sakic when referencing MacKinnon . “It started near the end of last year when his focus was to compete against other teams’ top players. He’s electrifying. He’s got to be one of the top two or three most exciting players in the game.”
MacKinnon finished the regular season with a career-high 97 points, the most since his 2013-2014 season when he had 63 points.
“He’s a winner, he wants to win and he hates losing, and that’s what’s good about him,” joked Sakic.
Gabe Landeskog finished the season with 62 points, the second best tally of his career.
“He was a great leader last year to keep this group together,” said Sakic. “You need those guys to step up in the playoffs… and I thought he was one of the most impressive players in the series.”