Avalanche newcomer Josh Manson is Dave Manson’s son — and a chip off the old block – The Denver Post
It took Josh Manson one game to show the Avalanche what kind of player general manager Joe Sakic acquired in a trade with Anaheim.
Donning an Avs sweater Tuesday night at Los Angeles, the rugged defenseman logged 18 minutes, 41 seconds of ice time and delivered a game-high 10 hits, the most by an Avs player in three years.
Colorado won 3-0 behind a dominating defensive performance, and Manson’s physical presence was a huge factor.
“If Josh’s game tonight is any indication, he’s going to help us in a big way,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said postgame.
Manson might remind some Avalanche fans of Adam Foote, a longtime teammate of Sakic in Colorado. Sakic and Foote hoisted the Stanley Cup together with the Avs in 1996 and 2001. Sakic was the star center and team captain. Foote was the bruising right-shot defenseman and alternate captain who led his team to the fight.
But Manson just as easily could be mistaken for his father, Dave Manson, a legendary NHL defenseman from the same era as Foote. His father played in 1,103 career NHL regular-season games over 17 years. He had 52 fighting majors and amassed 2,793 penalty minutes — 13th-most in league history.
Josh Manson already has 23 fighting majors, including three this season, and all with the Ducks. He learned much from his father, who was promoted from Edmonton’s AHL affiliate to serve as an Oilers’ assistant coach last month.
Yet the younger Manson’s career almost never came to be. In an interview with The Post, Dave Manson said Josh came close to quitting hockey while playing bantam (ages 13-14) in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
“His mother is the one that made sure he stuck it out,” he said. “His mother was very persistent. Hockey moms have a huge part in their kid’s life, especially when their dads are away playing. But they made him a forward and they had a bunch of injuries. He was moved to the back end and things escalated pretty quickly for him.
“From then on, he ended up getting cut as a 19-year-old and went to Northeastern (University). He kind of took a different path. He’s a very hard worker.”
Much like his father, that work ethic shows up all over the ice.
A highly physical right-shot blueliner, Josh Manson plays an aggressive brand of hockey that suits teams looking to make deep Stanley Cup playoff runs. The 30-year-old served as an alternate captain for Anaheim before Sakic acquired him for prospect Drew Helleson, the Avs’ 2019 second-round draft pick from Boston College, and a 2023 second-rounder.
That might seem like a lot to give up for a pending unrestricted free agent whom the Avs are unlikely to keep next season, Manson is the type of player a team needs to win in the playoffs.
“He is a character person and player and will help Colorado down the stretch,” Anaheim general manager Pat Verbeek said.
Manson was a fan favorite for Anaheim, playing in eight seasons with the Ducks after they selected him in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. He played three years at Northeastern University and served as captain as a junior in his final year.
“Josh is a big, strong, heavy defenseman. Makes a good first pass. Very hard to play against and a very good team guy,” said Derek Armstrong, the former longtime Los Angeles forward and current Kings’ television personality. “He’ll be great in the dressing room because he has NHL bloodlines. He’s been around the game his whole life.”
Josh and his father have talked extensively since the Avalanche brought him into the fold — as they normally do. Dave Manson helped lead the Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup Final in 2000, after being acquired ahead of the trade deadline from the Chicago Blackhawks. Josh is now in the same situation.
“He’s been a good shoulder to lean on here with the last 24 hours (since the trade),” Josh said of his father, now 55 and in his 16th year in coaching. “… He’s very involved in my life, both off-ice and on-ice. He’s been amazing with that throughout my entire life, being able to compartmentalize things for me and be a hockey dad when he needs to be a hockey dad, and be just dad when he just needs to be dad.”
Dave joined Edmonton’s coaching staff from the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, on Feb. 10 when Oilers head coach Dave Tippet and assistant Jim Playfair were fired. Jay Woodcroft and Manson were in their fourth season with Bakersfield as head coach and assistant coach, respectively, and both brought those titles north.
Now the Oilers are among the teams that could potentially land in the second wild-card playoff spot and face the Avs in the first round.
“I don’t think it will be too weird,” Josh Manson said. “We do a good job of keeping things where they need to be and still maintain that father/son relationship. We’ve been going through it ever since I was a young kid. He’s been coaching as I was growing up … It’s nothing new, really, to us. Nothing different — except now he’s at the NHL level and we’re playing in the same league against each other.”
Manson is happy where he landed. He can choose where he plays next year and beyond as a UFA.
“They have so much talent here that, really, all I need to do is just try to come in a fly under the radar and help keep pushing the team in the right direction, doing the little things that I do, that a lot of times go unnoticed,” Manson said before the game against the Kings. “That’s probably the best way to describe it. If I’m not being noticed then it’s probably a good thing.”
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