Fire Jim Playfair? What kind of craziness is that?

Red Wings 3 Flames 1
(Detroit leads best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal 2-0)

So, it’s Sunday morning and I’m whistled on a slapshot call in my no-slapshot tournament. It was the third-period of a one-game playoff, and there’s no way in hell my stick went above my knee on the windup. We lose possession in the zone, the game, and the tourney was over. Remember, this is Sunday morning — meaning I would be at the bar in time to watch the Flames and Red Wings in Game 2.

Had I known what would follow, I would have argued more vehemently with the ref — perhaps slammed my stick on the ice a little harder. But because the team I follow is the Flames, I’m completely unschooled in playing with emotion.

It’s a day later and I’m calm now, and in all my catchup now that my own hockey (and long transport to and fro) is over, the most interesting thing I’ve seen by far is this.

So now, after two of the most embarrassing playoff performances by this team that I’ve ever seen — seriously, I thought Games 6 and 7 last year against Anaheim were bad — one of the most respected hockey reporters in the world is saying that Darryl Sutter should fire Jim Playfair now. Gee, where have we heard this before? Maybe here, here, here, here and here/here. (Sorry to anyone I’ve forgotten, feel free to leave your calls for Jimmy’s head in the comments. And note that none of these were whiny “We’re losing? Fire the coach!” calls, but generally reasonably sensible requests based on the same issues ye olde mainstream is bringing up now.)

So it’s time to break out this one again:


And, not to toot the Flames bloggers’ horn too much, but the omnipresent piece of analysis on the sports networks after yesterday’s game was our favourite son Tony Amonte missing Kristian Huselius’s beauty cross-ice pass when he could have tied the game. Consensus take: He has to pull that pass in with, as John Garrett called it, the “ball hockey stick he carries around.”

Tony Amonte should be pulled from the lineup in favour of Brandon Prust, who would bring exactly the game the Flames need right now and hey, just scored a key game-winning goal for Omaha. The callup-into-a-key-role story is already being played out right now in Vancouver, where some Danish guy named Jannik Hansen has suddenly been placed in a key role. Prust plays one way: fast, hard and relentless. Who’s doing that on the Flames right now?

And as long as you’re putting Prust in there, why not Byron Ritchie or even Darren McCarty, who play the same way?

Oh yeah, because the coach is Jim Playfair, the assistant coaches are Rich Preston and Wayne Fleming, and their general manager is a stubborn son of a bitch who won’t go back on his “this is the team” proclamation. To him, surely, the coaches are part of the team.

Of course, if that is the logic, the coaches can be held responsible for having their players prepared to play. And while goalie coach David Marcoux seems to have his guy ready, everyone else past Dion Phaneuf has been every kind of awful for two straight. Yes, the players obviously bear some of the blame. I’m sure, for instance, that Jimmy didn’t send Warrener over the boards with the instruction to take a needless cross-checking penalty. But the team is not doing anything that could lead to a victory.

That six-game winning streak the Flames had before the four-game loser to end the season came, as was widely reported, immediately after Darryl came down to the dressing room for a much reported talking-to. That presence needs to be there full time.

But it’s not going to happen. And the Red Wings, the well-coached Red Wings, will continue to pound the Flames into 2006-2007 oblivion. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom and Dominik Hasek — and, let’s be honest, every player in the lineup — are at the top of their games, and not about to let off the gas.

And since it won’t respond with the appropriate measures, the organization will waste one of the prime years of one of the best goalies in the world.


~ by duncan on April 16, 2007.

11 Responses to “Fire Jim Playfair? What kind of craziness is that?”

  1. everyone else past Dion Phaneuf has been every kind of awful for two straight.

    let’s be honest. dion doesn’t look that great, either, and TWO straight ?? i count SIX. giordano. prust and/or tomi maki (it’s probably my last opportunity, so why not give props to my favorite AHLer).

  2. Six straight is fair enough. I guess when playoffs started I tried to forget the regular season even happened.

  3. It really is a shame, isn’t it?

    Oh well. Oddly, a part of me is quite excited about next year. We have several key guys playing in contract seasons and we get rid of a lot of dead wood (Amonte, Friesen, McCarty, etc.). And Jim Playfair will be just a bad memory.

  4. And Jim Playfair will be just a bad memory.

    We can hope…

  5. The Flames had so much talent. They had some many skilled players but they just blew away the season like it meant nothing. I am so confused as to why they were playing like that. I don’t understand how they could be so bad. Could it be a coaching issue? Or maybe it was the chemistry between the players. Who knows, but they’d better fix it if they want to even make the playoffs next year.

  6. You mental midgets should all coach the flames. Maybe Sutter should get some better players. Oh, what round did the flames go last year? Firing Playfair is not warranted.

  7. You mental midgets should all coach the flames.

    Look, it’s Canary Shirt’s brother Larry! Complete with ’50s insults to go with Jim’s ’50s hairstyle!

    Anyway, Ghetto, thanks for the brilliant analysis. Those 30 words definitely proved us all wrong.

    (And I’ve got nothing against disagreements around here, but mental midgets? Seriously.)

  8. ok, superior intellect. We will see if Sutter improves the makeup of the team. I hope so. But I don’t believe firing anyone right now is appropriate.

  9. Thanks dude. Looks like no matter what any of us think, we’re going to find out what’s what in about five minutes. I do agree that there are personnel matters that Sutter needs to deal with. I just happen to think Playfair is one of those personnel matters. I still think he should go, and I think we’ve seen some pretty solid arguments from the Flames blogs that agree with me. In fairness, check through the archive — I’ve explored Jimmy’s positives all along, I’m not just fire-the-coach happy.

  10. What is the gossip mill concerning Playfair?

  11. Nothing past the wishes of hopeful Flames fans, I’m afraid, so nothing worth repeating.

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