The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports today that the short list of candidates for the vacant head coaching job with the Colorado Avalanche is down to four, three of which would be first-time NHL skippers: Jared Bednar, Travis Green, and Lane Lambert as well as Scott Arniel. Following the unexpected departure of Patrick Roy last week, the Avs have had to move quickly to fill their major hole, and will reportedly begin preliminary interviews with these candidates as soon as possible.
Bednar, who many may consider the top contender for the job, is the head coach of the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters (formerly Lake Erie Monsters) and led the Columbus Blue Jackets affiliate to a Calder Cup championship last year. At just 44, Bednar was able to work with a young group of players to pull off a dominant run to the top in just his second year on the job. With another young group in need of leadership in Denver, Bednar would appear to be a good fit for an Avs squad that has just missed the playoffs in each of the past two years and is in need of some enthusiasm and motivation.
Another former Blue Jackets employee, Arniel was head coach in Columbus in 2010-11, before getting fired midway through the 2011-12 season with a combined record under .5oo. However, at just 53 years old, Arniel presents a candidate who is young, but also has NHL head coaching experience with some success, as well as a plethora of time as an AHL head coach and NHL assistant coach. Arniel may be the most prepared to step in and take over in Colorado with such a short time left before the kick-off to the 2016-17 season.
Green’s is a name that has been thrown around a lot recently as a top candidate for head coaching vacancies around the league. A veteran of 15 years in the NHL with the Islanders, Ducks, Coyotes, Leafs, and Bruins, Green has since quickly worked his way up through the coaching ranks with success at every level. A gritty player who now brings a tough game behind the bench, a Colorado team that often struggles against the rougher Western Conference competition would benefit from Green’s guidance.
Lambert, currently an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals, spent seven years as a coach with an Avs’ division rival, the Nashville Predators, first as AHL head coach and then as NHL assistant coach, before moving to the Caps in 2014. Well-respected across the league, including by former Quebec Nordiques teammate and Colorado GM Joe Sakic, it seems like only a matter of time before Lambert gets his own head coaching gig, and it might just come with the Avalanche.