Paul Klee: ‘Gwoz’ knows inside scoop on Avs-Lightning Cup final | Paul Klee


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DENVER — “The right workforce won” Game 1 of the Avalanche-Lightning Stanley Cup Final, George Gwozdecky confirmed.

“Coach Gwoz” would know.

To get wise on Colorado’s 4-3 extra time triumph in opposition to Tampa Bay Wednesday, I mined the mind of 1 of the greatest coaches to bless our state — hockey, golfing, football, soccer, you name it. He’s The Guy.

Convert absent, Colorado College or university followers, at the very least right up until Match 2 Saturday at Ball Arena.

Gwozdecky, as you could suspect, has specific insight and intel into this Cup final. He served as an assistant coach with Tampa Bay from 2013-15, in the room with Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Tampa’s main, the commence of a operate which is taken Tampa to three Cup finals and the precipice of a legitimate and uncommon dynasty. The Lightning reached the 2015 Cup final with ‘Gwoz’ on the bench.

Plus, the DU Pioneers, whom he led to back-to-back NCAA titles in 2004-05, just received a different.

“If Sport 1 is an indication, I would be shocked if this is not a long sequence,” Gwozdecky informed me Thursday from his office environment at Valor Christian Significant as the boys hockey coach.

Avalanche ahead Andre Burakovsky gained Match 1 with a wrist shot previous Andrei Vasilevskiy (“Vasy,” as Gwozdecky instinctively refers to him) only 1:23 into extra time. What stood out to Gwozdecky was the engage in of Vasilevskiy (“After the first interval he kept the match close,” Gwozdecky mentioned), the energy of Colorado’s blue line (“I never assume they get adequate credit score for how effectively they defend”) and the related, relaxed, awesome temperaments of the respective coaches — Jared Bednar, with whom he trades text messages, and Jon Cooper, with whom he worked.

“That form of temperament has a calming outcome, and I assume you observed that when neither crew was bothered (by spectacular momentum swings),” Gwozdecky said.

Two statistical classes stood out on the scoresheet: takeaways (17-4, Avs) and scoring possibilities in regulation (24-12, Avs). As Cooper claimed postgame: “The ideal crew received.”

The endearing attributes of the two Cup finalists performed out in Video game 1.

“Tampa showed their expertise. They’re down (2- in the initial interval), but they showed endurance. They didn’t panic. That comes from the self confidence which is created by (back again-to-again) Stanley Cups,” Gwozdecky said. “I was impressed with how the Avalanche responded as perfectly. I imagined they arrived out after that intermission (into the 3rd time period) immediately after getting rid of a direct and have been not fazed. They responded. That exhibits a group which is mature and prepared.”

In 7 seasons there, Gwozdecky has led Valor to a pair of state championships — 2020 and ’21. Bednar and Gwozdecky first satisfied in 2016, when Bednar’s son, a baseball player, was enrolling at Valor and the Avs coach discovered his way to Gwozdecky’s place of work. They spoke about lifestyle and hockey for a fifty percent-hour. They share texts after huge times.

“I’m getting a ball listed here (at Valor). The school, the staff, are wonderful,” explained Gwozdecky, who coached 29 seasons at the university and pro degrees before arriving at a Class 5A rink. “I under no circumstances predicted coaching at this age amount. It’s been entertaining. It truly has.”

Would he take into account a return to the higher concentrations of hockey?

“There are situations you pass up it, no doubt, like (seeing Match 1). Then I rein myself in and remember all the other stuff that goes into it,” Gwozdecky reported, citing comprehensive travel, hours of meetings and 24-7 operate plan. “You assume about it. Then I capture myself.”

DU fired Gwozdecky in 2013 in potentially the most inexplicable coaching adjust I recall in this article. But it was Gwozdecky who acquired present DU coach David Carle his start out. Carle was established to perform for Gwozdecky when medical practitioners learned a heart ailment that finished Carle’s actively playing job. ‘Gwoz’ produced particular the university honored Carle’s scholarship and stored him on staff as a kind of college student-assistant.

The move was compensated ahead: In April, Carle led the Pios to a document-tying ninth NCAA title, summoning sweet reminiscences for Gwozdecky. His 2004 NCAA title also was received in Boston. The existing Pios stayed in the very same Boston Sheraton, and a mate despatched a online video of Carle’s workforce carrying the trophy by way of the very same lodge foyer.

“Sent a shiver down my backbone,” Gwozdecky mentioned.

Gwozdecky is the only man to get NCAA titles as a participant (at Wisconsin), assistant mentor (Michigan Point out) and head mentor (DU). His closing period in Tampa concluded “so near” to a Stanley Cup title. Those Lightning shed 4-2 to the Blackhawks in the final. A damaged wrist turned star ahead Tyler Johnson into “a decoy” and altered record.

“If Tyler Johnson stays healthy we gain the Cup in five game titles,” Gwozdecky reported.

The rowdy LoDo in Match 1 no doubt motivated the Avs’ functionality. A college or university hockey variation below would be the 1995 Denver Cup, when Gwozdecky’s Pioneers beat arch-rival Colorado University 3-2 ahead of 16,000 at McNichols Arena. Boy, those were the days. In this Stanley Cup Last, individuals times are back again.

“I really do not consider there is any argument these are the two best groups in the NHL,” Gwozdecky explained.

The ideal staff will acquire.

By Harriet