Bed­nar goes to Mon­treal, Toronto

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Cham­bers

mon­treal» It’s a big deal to play or coach hockey in Mon­treal and Toronto, and for first-year Avalanche coach Jared Bed­nar, it’s bound to be ex­tra spe­cial be­cause it will be his first time in those his­toric Orig­i­nal Six mar­kets. In­deed, the Cana­dian na­tive from York­ton, Saskatchewan, has never been to the Bell Cen­tre or Air Canada Cen­tre — where Colorado plays the fi­nal two games of its four-game trip Satur­day and Sun­day.

“It’s an ex­cit­ing time,” said Bed­nar, whose team is 1-1 on the trip af­ter win­ning 4-2 at Bos­ton on Thurs­day. “We have a lot of Cana­di­ans, and go­ing into Canada is a lot of fun. It’s go­ing to be some­thing that’s new to me be­cause I’m a West­ern guy. I’ve been to Cal­gary watch­ing games my whole life, I’ve been to Ed­mon­ton watch­ing games, I’ve been to Win­nipeg watch­ing games. Even Van­cou­ver. But I’ve never gone to watch a game in Mon­treal or Toronto. So it’s ex­cit­ing. When­ever you go into a game where you know there is a lot of buzz, that’s the funnest part of the game — com­pet­ing against teams like that.”

As a young­ster, Bed­nar played ma­jor-ju­nior for four teams in the West­ern Hockey League be­fore be­gin­ning a pro­fes­sional ca­reer for the ECHL’s Hunt­ing­ton (W.Va.) Bliz­zard. He re­mained in the Eastern or Cen­tral time zones through­out his play­ing and coach­ing ca­reer un­til he was hired by the Avs in Au­gust, and his only time in Canada was a 55-game play­ing stint for the St. John’s (New­found­land) Maple Leafs of the Amer­i­can Hockey League in 1996-97.

At the time, St. John’s was the top af­fil­i­ate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But Bed­nar was never called up by the big-league Leafs and he never played in the NHL. And be­fore tak­ing over for hall of fame goalie Pa­trick Roy as Colorado’s bench boss, Bed­nar’s coach­ing ca­reer was ex­clu­sively in the ECHL and AHL.

The Eastern Cana­dian twogame stop is also ex­cit­ing for Avs cen­ter Nathan MacKin­non, who is from Hal­i­fax, Nova Sco­tia, and starred in the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League.

“I love play­ing in Que­bec. I played in the Q ,” said MacKin­non, 21. “Those French fans in Que­bec are awe­some. Very loud and pas­sion­ate. Same with Toronto. Two re­ally great Cana­dian cities and re­ally ex­cited for those games.”

For Avs winger Jarome Iginla — as­sum­ing he plays — Satur­day’s game against Mon­treal will be the 1,500th reg­u­lar-sea­son game of his ca­reer.

The 39-year-old Iginla will be­come the 16th player to reach that mile­stone. Among ac­tive play­ers, only Jaromir Jagr, 44, of the Florida Pan­thers has played more games (1,657).

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