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Playfair Welcomes Return to NHL

Monday, 06.13.2011 / 8:06 PM / Features
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE -- Jim Playfair flew to Arizona on Monday to begin his new job as Associate Coach of the Coyotes.

High on his to-do list is having dinner with Head Coach Dave Tippett so the two can get to know each other better and get to work.

Jim Playfair
“He’s somebody I’ve watched as a coach and admired, and I’ve gained a great deal of respect for his ability to motivate a team and to make sure each and every night that they’re ready to play,” Playfair said regarding Tippett. “I’m excited to become part of his staff. It’s a great staff to become a part of. I’ve been watching for two years and they’ve done a really good job of helping the players stay mentally focused on making the playoffs.”

The Coyotes reached out to Playfair after Ulf Samuelsson resigned to become head coach of MODO in the Swedish Elite League last month. Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving, a friend of Playfair’s since their days within in the Indianapolis Ice organization 20 years ago, recommended Playfair to General Manager Don Maloney and Tippett. After considering about 15 candidates, the Coyotes decided Playfair was the best fit for the job because of his impressive ability to coach defensemen.

"Jim has an excellent record with teaching and developing defensemen,” Maloney said. “His drive, work habits and communication skills make him a very good addition to our coaching staff.”

Playfair had one year left on his contract to coach the Calgary Flames’ affiliate in the American Hockey League, but he jumped at the chance to return to the NHL.

“I was perfectly content to go back to Abbotsford and fulfill my contract, but as I spoke with and shared ideas with the Coyotes, it just seemed like it was a real good fit in Phoenix,” Playfair said. "It's an opportunity for me to get back into the National Hockey League with the right group of people with the right mentality.”

Playfair and Tippett both spent time within the Dallas Stars organization, but not at the same time. Playfair said he’s intrigued by Tippett’s defensive style of coaching and feels their philosophies are similar.

Photo by Getty Images.
Asked to describe his coaching style, Playfair said: “I believe, first and foremost, that I’m a teacher. I think I have the ability to communicate with the players and to help individuals improve. I think my style of coaching is one where I try to maximize the best of each player’s individual ability while making sure they play a consistent team game.”

He added: “I think that players want to win and players want to be challenged and they want to know that they’re held accountable. Those are the areas that I believe are important.”

Playfair spent the past 11 years coaching within Calgary’s system. In 2006-07, he served as head coach for the Flames and guided them to a 96-point season. After that season, he served as an associate coach for the Flames for two seasons and then served as head coach for the team’s AHL affiliate in Abbotsford for the past two seasons.

He’s eager to get back behind an NHL bench.

“I am not apprehensive at all about leaving the situation I was in (in Calgary),” Playfair said. “In fact, I’m extremely excited about the challenge being presented to me here in Phoenix and I’m very confident I can help this team.”

► Click here to read more about Playfair’s background as a coach and a player.
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