DENVER — With a calm, cool and collected disposition, Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar has led the club to one of the NHL’s great turnarounds.
A horrific tragedy struck an emotional chord on Saturday.
As his voice cracked ever so slightly, Bednar reflected on the bus accident that claimed 14 lives belonging to members of a junior hockey club in Saskatchewan. Fourteen others reportedly were injured when the Humboldt Broncos team bus was hit by a semi-trailer truck on Friday.
Bednar said his family twice was stationed in Humboldt. His childhood dream was to play for the Broncos, and he did.
“The bulk of my childhood was in that city,” Bednar said after the Avs' morning skate at Pepsi Center.
"I know what that team means to that town," he said.
Bednar and the Avs host the Blues on Saturday night. If Colorado wins the game in regulation, the Avs will go from the worst team in the NHL in 2016-17 to a Western Conference playoff series that would start next week.
But coach and players alike took a somber tone when the Humboldt news found the room. Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog said his hockey life has been filled with bus rides and “not once” has he considered one could be his last.
Bednar’s connection to Humboldt made it doubly difficult. He said Humboldt is a "tight-knit community" of about 6,000 residents.
"There are no words to express the pain and suffering that the Broncos family and community is experiencing, and all my thoughts and prayers go out to them at this devastating time," Avs general manager Joe Sakic said.