Bruce Boudreau took over as Wild coach in April and had the entire summer to prepare for his first season.
Jared Bednar led the Lake Erie Monsters to the American Hockey League championship, the Calder Cup, in June and got a two-year contract extension with Columbus’ top farm team.
But when volatile Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy quit on Aug. 11, the Avalanche went through a quick courtship and pilfered the 44-year-old Bednar to take over on Aug. 25, less than a month before training camp started.
Hey, there’s little sympathy among NHL coaches.
“I don’t think he has any issues at all — it would be like saying if you get fired and hired in midseason it’s an excuse to lose for a month,” said Boudreau. “He’s a smart dude, so I’m sure he got in there and jumped in with both feet.”
The Wild and Avalanche meet Saturday in Denver, giving the two coaches a chance to renew acquaintances.
Boudreau and Bednar crossed paths when Bednar was coaching with South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League from 2002-09. The Stingrays won the ECHL title in 2009 when Boudreau was coaching the Washington Capitals.
“He used to coach in South Carolina when I was in Washington, which was our affiliate, so we saw him every prospect camp in the summer and training camp in the winter,” Boudreau said. “Don’t know what he’d have to say, but I got along with him very well. Good guy. Not that I don’t want to beat him, but good guy.”
The Wild will unveil a new first line when it plays at Colorado.
Left winger Jason Zucker joins center Eric Staal and right winger Charlie Coyle on the first unit. The second line of Mikael Granlund-Mikko Koivu-Jason Pominville stays intact.
“Our top six are really important because we depend on them to score goals,” Boudreau said, “and [hopefully] we get bonuses from the bottom six. My real thing is for [the third and fourth lines] to defend, if they defend and score a couple of goals, great.
“But we need Eric’s line and Mikko’s line to be our producers. They play all the power plays, they are the guys that play 18-20 minutes, so we need them.”
Wait, then play
The Wild, which lost to visiting Buffalo 2-1 on Tuesday, is in an odd stretch, with only one game in eight days and two weeks between home games.
“We all like playing games, there’s no joking about that, but at the same time we didn’t have our best game last game so being able to get out at practice and work on a few things is probably what we need,” said defenseman Nate Prosser.
Starting with Thursday’s game at Pittsburgh, however, the Wild plays 10 times in 17 days.
“I think everyone likes to play a lot, get into a rhythm, but traveling a lot, playing every other day, playing back to back, your body is going to get a little tired,” Granlund said. “If you have injuries or stuff, they don’t heal that good. Obviously mentally, too, you have to be ready every other day.
“But we like to play.”
• Injured winger Zach Parise (foot) worked on ice with assistant coach Darby Hendrickson before the practice but didn’t participate in the regular practice.
• Colorado lost at home to Nashville 5-1 on Tuesday and was shut out in Chicago 4-0 on Thursday night. “It’ll be a pretty angry team,” Boudreau said. “My history of watching teams like that is we better be ready right from the get-go.”