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Playfair named first head coach of Abbotsford Heat

Duane Sutter, director of player personnel for the Calgary Flames, and Lane Sweeting, president of Abbotsford Heat Hockey Ltd., announced today that Jim Playfair has been appointed head coach of the Abbotsford Heat, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League.

“We consider the retention of Jim Playfair for our team to be a tremendous coup,” noted Sutter. “Jim has won at every level and will prove effective in directing both young and veteran players towards winning and honing their skills.”

Playfair joined the Calgary Flames coaching staff in January 2003 as an assistant coach — a position he held until being named the Calgary Flames head coach for the 2006-07 season. Since 2007 Playfair has held the position of associate coach with the Flames.

“The opportunity to retain a coach of Jim Playfair’s calibre represents an important first step towards establishing a winning program in Abbotsford,” suggested Sweeting. “We are looking forward to working with a head coach who will put his brand on this team and help us win.”

This will be Playfair’s second stint as a head coach in the American Hockey League. Playfair was appointed head coach of the Saint John Flames on Aug. 10, 2000, and spent three seasons in that position. During the 2000-01 season, his first behind the bench in Saint John, Playfair led the Flames to their first American Hockey League Calder Cup championship and was named the Minor League Professional Coach of the Year by The Hockey News.

Over the course of his tenure in Saint John, Playfair posted a record of 83-87-22.

“I am looking forward to stepping back behind the bench as the head coach,” noted Playfair. “My goal is to create an identity both on and off of the ice for our players, the fans and for the City of Abbotsford. Abbotsford will be a difficult place for our opponents to play.”

Prior to joining the Flames organization, Playfair was the head coach of the Michigan K-Wings of the International Hockey League. He served as an assistant coach with the K-Wings for three seasons before being named head coach on January 25, 2000. The balance of Playfair’s head coaching experience includes three seasons as bench boss of the Dayton Bombers of the East Coast Hockey League.

The 45-year-old native of Fort St. James, B.C., played nine seasons of professional hockey including 21 games in the National Hockey League with the Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks. Playfair was selected as Edmonton’s first choice, 20th overall, in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft and played three AHL seasons (1984-87) with the Nova Scotia Oilers. He captained the Indianapolis Ice (IHL) to the 1990 Turner Cup championship but was forced to retire from playing due to an eye injury suffered during the 1991-92 campaign.