After some rumors of a job offer last week, it’s been announced today that Jim Playfair is leaving the Flames organization to become an assitant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes. Playfair had served in just about every coaching capacity for the Flames organization, jumping from minor-league head coach, to assitant in the bigs, to head coach of the Flames, back down to minor leagues. He’s been with the organization since 2001, the year he guided the Flames affiliate St. John Flames to the Calder Cup.
Aside from the clip above, Playfair will be remembered most for the season he replaced Darryl Sutter behind the bench (2006-07). The Flames scored a bunch that year, but couldn’t really defend or play on the road and ended up being cannon fodder before the Red Wings in the first round. A lot of fans and analysts have wondered if Playfair caught the bullet a tad prematurely given the performance of the club and it’s other coaches in subsequent years, which is a fair question.
That said, I personally didn’t like the Flames under Playfair. They had one of the worst shot differentials in the league that season (-3.2/game) and only remained in the playoff race thanks to some nice percentages, touched off by career seasons for Daymond Langkow, Kristian Huselius and Jarome Iginla. Playfair wasn’t granted the best line-up in the league, but the shots against per game rose by more than three between him and Sutter and there’s no question Sutter was probably working with the lesser of the two squads.
On the other hand, I always thought Playfair was a good interview. He made clear, concise points, answered questions thoroughly and honestly and I usually agreed with the insight that he offered. He’s spent a lot of time paying his dues in various capacities here, so I certainly don’t begrudge him his opportunity in Phoenix.
Playfair’s departure adds another bullet to Feaster’s off-season action item list: Abbotsford Heat head coach. Any suggestions?