Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar and centre Nathan MacKinnon both downplayed the heated exchange between the two late in Wednesday's loss to the Calgary Flames on Friday.
The exchange came just seconds after Calgary scored an empty-net goal to secure Colorado's eighth loss in nine games. MacKinnon threw a Gatorade bottle in disgust and, after trading words with Bednar, he was so fired up that a calming arm from captain Gabriel Landeskog caused him to fall backwards on the bench.
On Friday, both Bednar and MacKinnon chalked the exchange up to frustration with the team's recent skid on Friday and said there is no rift.
MacKinnon said that he was shocked at how bad he looked when he saw the highlights on TV later that night.
“That’s unacceptable on my part; I can’t be doing that stuff. Just frustrated we lost eight of nine, I think (Matthew) Tkachuk had just scored an empty-netter. I was just really frustrated but I love playing for (Bednar). Everyone loves playing for (Bednar) in here and that's on me and I take responsbility for it," said MacKinnon.
MacKinnon, an alternate captain, sits second on the Avalanche in scoring this season with 26 goals and 66 points through 44 games. The 2018 Hart Trophy finalist added that the disagreement stemmed from him thinking the goalie should have been pulled, and said that he and Bednar spoke after the game and they moved on right away.
“All of us, at the time, were frustrated. I thought we played two really good games, could’ve come out with four points,” said Bednar. “To me, [the outburst] didn’t bother me at all. That’s what I love about Nathan and about certain guys on our team is the fire and passion and emotion they play with. That’s what you need in this game, that’s what makes him so good, so I never want to curb that.”
Bednar, 46, was hired ahead of the 2016-17 season and had a tough first year, posting a 22-56-4 record behind the bench. The Avalanche, however, rebounded last year to post a 43-30-9 record en route to reaching the postseason for the first time since 2014. The team is currently seventh in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche’s next game is on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens.