Manson eyes Stanley Cup with Avalanche in Final after father came close

“Oh, I didn’t even think of that [Father’s Day]’ said Josh, a defense attorney for the Colorado Avalanche, last week. “The focus was on everything else. I’m sure we’ll have a good time together soon and we want to make it special.”

Josh and the Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday to extend their lead in the best-of-7 series and traveled to Sunday for Game 3 at the Amalie Arena tampa

“I think it gets pushed a little to the side with everything that’s going on,” Josh said of Father’s Day. “But it will be nice to spend some time.”

Josh’s immediate priority is to accomplish something his father failed to do.

Dave, an NHL defenseman from 1986 to 2002 and now an assistant with the Edmonton Oilers, came close to winning the cup twice as a player. In his 14th NHL season, he played for the Dallas Stars, who lost in six games to the New Jersey Devils in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals. In his fourth NHL season, he reached the Campbell Conference Final with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1990, but lost to the Oilers in six games.

“We are very excited about this opportunity [Josh] has,” said Dave before the cup final. “We talked about how this is going to be very difficult and that this opportunity doesn’t come around very often. Hopefully he’ll be able to do that a few more times, but it’s very difficult.”

During his 16-year NHL career, Dave had 390 points (102 goals, 288 assists) in 1,103 regular-season games for the Blackhawks, Oilers, Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Stars and 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in 112 Stanley Cup playoff games.

The combination of that experience and family ties made that season’s Western Conference Finals, when the Avalanche swept the Oilers in four games, so emotional for the Mansons.

“Of course it was bittersweet because one of us had to lose, but it was still special,” said Josh.

The 30-year-old has scored one goal in that series and has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 16 playoff games this season.

Josh, who was acquired in a March 14 trade with the Anaheim Ducks for prospective defenseman Drew Helleson and a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL draft, has 120 points (28 goals, 92 assists) in 475 games in eight NHL seasons and 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 38 playoff games, including a goal on Saturday.

Dave’s return to the NHL came on February 10 when he was promoted from an assistant at Bakersfield in the American Hockey League to an assistant with the Oilers, along with Jay Woodcroft, who was promoted from the Bakersfield coach to replace the fired Edmonton to replace coach Dave Tippett.

He said he’s long been proud of his son and that’s never been truer than during the series.

“I was also proud of our team for being a part of it,” said Dave. “I wish we could have found a way to sneak a game here or there instead of going under like that, so it was very emotional. We’ve both been looking for a chance to do something that doesn’t come around very often. It’s harder to do than people think.”

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When the Avalanche Oilers series was over, the handshake line exchange was direct, encouraging, professional, and fatherly at the same time.

“Just [said], ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Go finish it’ and ‘I love you,'” Dave said. “You don’t have much time, but that’s about it. It would be so great to have ultimate success in the league. I didn’t make it as a player, I came close to the final. So I told him to finish the job.”

Josh said his father’s message was what he expected.

“He’s a good father because he’s caring, loving, and supportive,” Josh said. “He’s everything you need in a husband and father to support you. He is there every step of the way. He never presses decisions on you. He will guide you through the process. Obviously, being in the NHL now, it would be easy for him to say, “Well, I did it this way and you should do it this way,” really force it. But he was never like that once. He was just sharing experiences and letting me make my decisions as I go.

“I never really had him as a coach. But I’ve heard from guys that he motivates you, he teaches you and he will push you to make sure you get the best, but he doesn’t come down or get hard on you. If you compare the two, it’s pretty similar. He treats you with respect, he pushes you and he will teach you the things he needs to teach you, but he will never force it on you. He’ll let you do what you have to do.”

Dave said it was always a goal for him and his wife Lana.

“I think we were like that with all four kids,” Dave said. “We wanted our kids to be active in sports, but we didn’t push them. If they wanted to, we just helped guide them.

“Josh was a pretty smart hockey player from the start. He asked questions and I helped him with a few things here and there. But for the most part, and I firmly believe, you have to let his coaches do their job.” With Josh, I always thought it was wrong [for him]he could find out.”

Figuring out how they could come together during the finals is the next task. After end-of-season meetings and business in Edmonton, Dave has returned to the family home in Bakersfield, California to get organized and plans are in the air. He said he hopes to come to Denver for future games of the Finals.

Whatever the outcome of the series, joy will mark the next time Josh’s 2-year-old daughter, Gemma, has her father and grandfather together.

They dream of how special a Stanley Cup championship could make this belated Father’s Day celebration.

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