'It's a nice change'

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

A new head coach -- and not because the old one had been fired due to another dismal season.

We're talking uncharted territory for Jarome Iginla as a Calgary Flame.

"Yeah, it's a nice change," Iginla said with a laugh following news Jim Playfair is replacing Darryl Sutter as the Flames' head coach.

"It's exciting and it's nice to see it's because it's a decision they're making. You don't feel responsible because you do when a guy is fired."

Iginla, who was at his off-season home in Kelowna, expected Sutter to bump himself upstairs, where he'll now concentrate on his GM duties.

"He told me he was definitely thinking about it but I really wasn't sure which way he was going to lean," Iginla said. "I've been reading things lately and it seemed he might stay, so it was still a bit of a surprise.

"Darryl is a great coach -- look at his record and how quickly he reached 400 wins. We became a good team under him."

Now the team will be guided by Playfair, a successful coach in the minors before becoming an assistant in Calgary in January 2003.

"We all have a lot of respect for him," Iginla said. "I know he worked mainly with the defencemen but he's a really good communicator. He is intense -- that side is similar to Darryl -- and the d-men are all very positive about working with him."

Even players outside the Flames organization rave about Playfair's coaching strength.

"A great coach," said Washington Capitals forward Chris Clark, who was coached by Playfair while with the St. John Flames.

"The confidence he had in me and gave me is big. He recognized I might have the potential to make it to the NHL, so he always pushed me to be better ... He did that not just to me but all the other guys."

Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr also welcomed the news of the coaching change.

"Darryl was having a hard time finding all the time he needs to do both jobs the way he was happy with. Now that he's having a chance to move upstairs, it will be good for him to just focus on the general manager position."


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