The Colorado Avalanche have hired Ray Bennett as an assistant coach and Jussi Parkkila as their goaltending coach. Joining Nolan Pratt to fill out Jared Bednar’s coaching staff. Earlier this offseason the Avalanche released Tim Army, Dave Farrish and Francois Allaire. Avalanche fans all summer have been waiting to hear who the new guys would be coming in. Let’s take a look at what each of these men will bring to the Avalanche in their new capacity.
One interesting thing of note is that the St Louis Blues power-play percentage this last season 2016-2017 was 21.3% in 235 chances. The Avalanche for comparison was dead last at 12.6% this last season. Bennett should if nothing else be able to help us bring up our power play scoring a bit which would be a huge thing moving forward as the team rebuilds and looks to the future with its youth. Under Tim Army who
Under Tim Army who handled the power play coaching duties on the bench the Avalanche had had a pretty futile power play over the last 7-9 years or so. This is something that I personally thought whoever we brought in assistant coach wise had to have a solid power play coaching abilities and Bennett appears to have just that. In the last 6 years, the St Louis Blues have only had an under 20% power player percent twice and it was 19. something percent both years. Once was 19.5 the other was 19.8 %.
Ray Bennett NHL Career
Bennett is 55 years old and has been in the NHL in a coaching capacity for many years. The last 10 seasons he has been employed by the St Louis Blues as an assistant coach. He was there and got experience working under four different head coaches in that time. In the 10 years with the Blues, he has been in charge of various things. Some of those included running the power play unit, managing team preparation, offensive evaluation and also spent some time doing video evaluation from the overhead view during games. Before his time with the St. Louis Blues he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings between 1999- 2006. While he was with the Kings he specialized in video analysis and statistical support and tactical technical play strategies.
Ray Bennett International Career
Ray Bennett was the manager of high performance/video for the Canadien Hockey Association for 2 years. He also was an assistant coach for Canada’s silver medal winning team in the 1999 IIHF Wold Junior Championship, the gold medal winning Canadian National Women’s Team in 1999 IIHF World Women’s Championship and a fourth place finish with Canadas Men’s National Team in 1999 IIHF World Championship. HE was an assistant coach for Canada’s silver medal winning Women’s team in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano Japan.
What did Joe Sakic have to say about Bennett and Parkkila
“Ray brings a tremendous amount of NHL experience and hockey knowledge to our team, and Jussi has a proven track record of working with goaltenders. They’re a great complement to our current coaching staff, and we’re excited to have them join our organization.”
Jussi Parkkila Career
Jussi Parkkila is 40 years old. He coached goalies for 12 years in Europe. 5 of those seasons were spent with Russias KHL and 2 of them were with Finlands top professional league Liiga. Last season he spent with the Grazz 99ers in Austria. Interestingly enough in 2007-2008, he spent time with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv where he worked closely with current Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
Personally, I am on record of saying that letting Pickard go was a mistake and I am not going to take that back at this point as I still feel it was a mistake and that there were options to hold both through expansion potentially. Anyways, this is not the point of this article… So I am going to say that you have to give the Avalanche credit and props for what they have done here. They decided that Semyon Varlamov was and is their legitimate number 1 starter even after this offseason surgery that he had and a couple of rough seasons. Not only did they do that but they went out and brought in a goalie coach now that he is familiar with and works well with and then they brought in a goalie to be the backup. Not someone who is young and potentially going to be pushing for his starting job and cause a goalie controversy.
The Avalanche have gone all in on Varlamov and what impressed me with the whole situation is just how all in they have gone on him. They know Varlamov well enough to know what they need to do to put him in absolutely the best position to find success in the NHL that is possible. For this, in my opinion, they get high marks even if it may not have been what I would have done they have had the confidence to go all in on it and put their goalie they choose in the best possible position to find success and to bring his game to as high a level as possible. As far as bringing in Bennett I am very impressed as well. If you look at this next season and have a healthy Semyon Varlamov that is where he was a few seasons ago when he was a Vezina finalist, heck, no .. lets say he’s not that good, but he is half as good as he was that season, but he is consistently that good this season and you add an 18-21% power-play unit on the ice this season and we could see significant improvement from the 48 point season we just witnessed. We all have seen when Varlamov is on his game 1 goal can win a game any given night. Upping the power play percentage would be massive to contributing to that.
So are to wrap this up, are there many questions and ifs? Defiantly, but is the team getting put in the best possible position to get the most out of the personnel and players that they currently have on the roster? In my honest opinion that is also a big fat definitely!
What do you think? Do you have any personal experience with any of these new coaches? Do you like them? Do you hate them? What do you think they will bring for the Avalanche next season? Let us know in the comments and we would love to continue the conversation there! Until next time,