SUN Hockey Pool

Coaching shakeup

Calgary Flames bench boss Darryl Sutter (centre), surrounded by fellow coaches Rob Cookson and Rich...

Calgary Flames bench boss Darryl Sutter (centre), surrounded by fellow coaches Rob Cookson and Rich Preston, will hand the coaching reins to Jim Playfair but will remain GM of the club. (Calgary Sun File/Darren Makowichuk)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Darryl Sutter is no longer the head coach of the Calgary Flames this morning.

Sutter will remain the team's general manager but will hand the bench-boss reins to Jim Playfair, according to several sources.

Sutter is expected to announce these changes at a press conference scheduled for this morning.

Playfair has served as an assistant coach with the team since shortly after Sutter came to the organization in December of 2002.

Also according to sources, Wayne Fleming will join the team as an assistant coach.

He has previously been an assistant in Philadelphia, Phoenix and with the New York Islanders, as well as serving as head coach of Canada's national team.

He also has been part of three Canadian Olympic teams, including the 2002 gold medal-winning squad.

Sutter held the dual role with the Flames since taking the GM job after the 2002-03 season.

With him at the helm, the Flames snapped a seven-year playoff drought, went to the 2004 Stanley Cup final and then won the Northwest Division regular-season crown this past season.

All along, though, he has said he would eventually relinquish the head-coaching duties to concentrate solely on building the organization.

Calls to the team for confirmation were not returned.

Playfair, who also didn't return calls, is certainly a worthy candidate to guide the squad that will head into the 2006-07 a Stanley Cup favourite.

Playfair -- who has won championship titles at all levels of the game other than the NHL -- has served as an apprentice the past 21/2 seasons under Sutter.

Before coming to Calgary, he guided the Flames' top farm team in Saint John to the Calder Cup as AHL champions.

Playfair, who was captain of the Indianapolis Ice team that won the IHL crown with Sutter as coach in 1990, was head coach in Saint John for three seasons.

Upon leading the Baby Flames to the AHL crown, he was named minor league professional coach of the year by The Hockey News.

Originally from Fort St. James, B.C., Playfair was drafted by Edmonton in the first round. He spent nine seasons as a pro with the Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks organizations but was forced to retire after suffering an eye injury during the 1991-92 season.

Playfair, the younger brother of former Buffalo Sabres defenceman Larry Playfair, cut his teeth in the coaching game by coaching in the ECHL with the Dayton Bombers and then spent four years in Kalamazoo as an assistant and head coach of the IHL's Michigan K-Wings.


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