Playfairs deal with heat

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

Jim Playfair isn't the only member of his family to take criticism over the way his Calgary Flames finished their season.

His three kids have had to answer to critics, too.

"I was driving them to school yesterday and I said, 'Where are you guys going to get it the worst, from the teachers or from the students?' " said a relaxed and engaging Flames head coach yesterday outside the team's dressing room.

"They started going on and on who was going to give it to them worse."

The day passed and Playfair returned to the school to pick up his offspring, aged 14, 12 and nine.

"I picked them up after school and I said, 'How was it?' " Playfair continued.

"They said, 'Aw, man ... they were giving me the report on it.

"I said, 'Hey, you guys get free tickets to every hockey game, suck it up.' "

That's exactly what Playfair has done in his rookie year as a head coach in the NHL while taking shrapnel after every loss and receiving no credit for the wins.

Which is pretty much what he expected -- and why he seems to be able to shrug off unruly fans calling for his head after falling in six games to the Detroit Red Wings, the Western Conference's No. 1 seed.

"That's this position," Playfair said while evading unfair questions about whether or not he believes he should be given a chance to return for a second season behind the Flames bench. "That's this position in Canada.

"That's this position in this league and that's this position forever. You have to learn to deal with it.

"You win it's the players, you lose it's the coach. That's sports.

"You know that going in. I've been in this long enough to know."

The hardest part of Playfair's season wasn't dealing with the negativity, it was the sudden end.

"You pour a lot out, you're going flat out and then you just stop dead in your tracks. That's the reality of it," Playfair said.

"Your expectations are a lot higher than what you accomplish. When you fall short, it's frustrating. That'd be the hardest part, I guess."

The best -- aside from the victory over Edmonton in the home opener -- was the fans who formed the Seas of Red for three games in the playoffs.

"It's so emotional you can't just put it in a couple of words and trim it out and say this is what it feels like. It's incredible is what it is," Playfair said.

"That's why they're so mad. It means so much to them.

"If I was a fan I'd be mad at the coach, too. They're invested. That's how much it matters to them."

Bumped into the boss's role last summer from his previous post as an assistant coach behind Darryl Sutter, Playfair knew the evolution would involve some growing pains.

He says he believes there were some big positives during the transition but admits looking back that there's lots of room for improvement.

"Certainly there were mistakes made and there was some good development. I don't know how you rate those out," Playfair said.

"You know you're going to be better in the future."

So eager is he to improve, the head coach wished for a fast-forward button.

"I wish the season started tomorrow morning. You know you're going to do a better job. It's like, let's go," Playfair said.

"That's just the excitement of wanting to correct anything you did wrong."

Judging from his mood yesterday, Playfair already knows he will get that chance next season.


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