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Bednar back to basics with the Cup in South Carolina

The Colorado Avalanche coach was eager to start his day with the Cup and wasted no time when the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Phil Pritchard and Mike Bolt arrived in their white van. He lifted the trophy from its box in the suitcase and carried it to the rink.

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“I couldn’t wait to see her again,” Bednar said.

The 50-year-old celebrated with the Cup and the Avalanche players after they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final in Tampa on June 26 and then at the parade in Denver four days later. But Tuesday was a chance to enjoy it with family and friends in Charleston, the city that has become his home after 15 seasons as a player and coach with the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL. between 1995 and 2009.

The Carolina Ice Palace, the Stingrays’ practice arena, is where Bednar began his coaching career in 2002.

“We used to train here, and obviously you get involved in minor hockey to try to grow the game here in Charleston,” Bednar said. I immediately thought I was going to bring the Cup and share it with the minor hockey community here in Charleston. »

Bednar spent nearly three hours posing with young players, their families and local fans, who lined up to see the Cup up close. He took the time to talk to each group, asking many who their favorite team was and pointing out where those teams are on the Cup.

Duane Jones, an Avalanche fan and serving member at AFB Charleston, came with his wife Jenna and their three sons. He wore his sweater with the image of Hold Makar.

“I’m serving here in Charleston with my family, so we’re lucky to have this unique opportunity,” Jones said. The Cup is the most prestigious trophy, and it’s great that everyone here has this unique chance. What Jared does for everyone is amazing. This is the chance of a lifetime. »

The Cup also came to Charleston in 2018, after Jason Fitzsimmons, a former Stingrays player and coach, won it as a professional scout and director of minor league operations for the Washington Capitals. Fitzsimmons gave Bednar his first chance as an assistant coach with the Stingrays in 2002, when he convinced his former teammate to retire after nine seasons as a pro. Bednar had a career as a tough, defensive-minded defenseman and won the Kelly Cup with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001.

When Fitzsimmons joined the Capitals scouting staff in 2007, Bednar took over as coach and led the Stingrays to another championship in 2009, before making the jump to the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Abbotsford Heat (assistant), Peoria Rivermen (head coach), Springfield Falcons (assistant and head coach) then Lake Erie Monsters (head coach).

A Calder Cup champion in 2016 with Lake Erie, the AHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets farm club, Bednar got his chance in Colorado when Patrick Roy took everyone by surprise by resigning as coach in August 2016.

But winning the Cup caused Bednar to think back to his time in South Carolina.

“I think about it a lot,” he said. It’s a long road to the NHL, and it’s even harder trying to win the Cup. We were able to get there in Colorado, and the road to get there was amazing. It wouldn’t have happened for me without me going through Charleston. »

Bednar estimated that between 20 and 30 of his former South Carolina teammates and players he managed would be in attendance for a reception on the Charleston coast on Tuesday night. That group included Fitzsimmons and Rob Concannon, a former South Carolina forward who is now the team’s president.

“We’ve always been very, very close over the years and that’s really special,” Concannon said. Hockey is a unique community, and there are several guys who have and haven’t played for the Stingrays who call Charleston home today. […] Despite our 51 or 52 years, we are excited like children to know that the Stanley Cup is going to be there. »

Fitzsimmons said he had one regret about his day with the Cup: not spending more quiet time with family and friends to take pictures and enjoy the trophy. That’s what Bednar did at his Isle of Palms beach house on Tuesday afternoon. He also carried the Cup on his boat to take some pictures on the water.

Bednar was also planning to spend some quality time with the Cup, his wife Susan, their son Kruz, 22, and their daughter Savega, 17. For Bednar, this day was as much about them as it was about him. When he moved from South Carolina to Abbotsford 13 years ago, his family remained in Charleston.

“We were separated for seven or eight years,” Bednar said, his voice shaking and his eyes watery. “I became an assistant coach with a view to being a head coach, so we didn’t want to move everyone. I had moved around all my life and the kids had kind of put down roots and had activities and sports. […] My wife did all the heavy lifting of raising the children with the help of her parents.

“We would see each other at parties and during trips abroad which weren’t too far away, but I spent a lot of time away from them. [Ce triomphe] makes it worth it. »

The Cup is heading to Europe for its next stops in the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and Finland, but Bednar will enjoy another day with it for the Broncos Memorial Golf Tournament in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, August 6. The 2018 bus crash killed 16 players and staff and injured 13 other Humboldt Broncos members of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). Bednar attended Humboldt schools in elementary and high school, while his father Wally was a police officer for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Bednar will be a guest of honor at the charity tournament for a fifth year. According to him, it will be even more special to participate with the Cup, and it will give him the chance to spend time with his parents, his brother, his sister and other friends and family members of the Humboldt region. .

“We started this charity golf tournament to help give back to the community in conjunction with the Broncos and it has grown. It’s a great weekend for families, Bednar said. I will be able to enjoy the good time with my family. We will be spending time with the Cup and the community at the golf tournament and those families will be able to spend time with the Cup and the Broncos players. […]

“Then the SJHL Hall of Fame Banquet is also taking place that night, so it’s a perfect day to bring the Cup to Western Canada so everyone in the community and area of Humboldt can benefit from it. »

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