Championship ink

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:33 PM ET


 TAMPA -- If all goes according to plan, Jim Playfair will be visiting a tattoo parlour very soon.

 All because of a birthday party conversation.

 On Saturday, with his good friend Blaine Dionne in Calgary to help the Flames assistant coach celebrate his 40th birthday, talk turned to how many championships Playfair has claimed.

 He brought up winning a Memorial Cup with Portland in 1983, a Turner Cup IHL championship with Indianapolis in 1990 and a Calder Cup AHL title with Saint John as coach in 2001.

 With a chance to complete the ultimate set of hockey titles, Dionne suggested Playfair get tattoos of them all if the Flames win the Cup.

 "I said, 'I'm scared of needles. I'm not getting a tattoo,' " Playfair recalled. "But then I thought about it and figured it would be something special."

 Special enough to commemorate permanently?

 "If enough people come up and tell me to do it, I will," he answered. "There, it's down in black and white for all the world to see."

 After all, each trophy will tell a story.

 - From the Memorial Cup crown: "It was special because your junior career is only so long and the NHL is ahead of you."

 - The IHL title: "We knew we had a great team but it taught us you're supposed to win every game. You focus on your development but you have to put those thoughts aside for the team."

 - Saint John's Calder Cup: "It gave me the confidence that what I believe as a coach will work. When I came to Calgary, it's helped me know the demands I've put on the young defencemen have been good for them."

 And, all of them combined, have a significant meaning.

 "Everybody wants to win and it's really, really hard to do," Playfair said. "I've learned once you believe in something, you've got to stick with it. That's got to be your focus and then you have a chance."

 Curiously, the Turner Cup crown came with current Flames GM-head coach Darryl Sutter behind the bench.

 Watching Sutter again skipper a team to within four wins of a championship has brought back a flood of memories for Playfair.

 "What matters to Darryl then still matters," he said. "That the team has an identity, the players have to be accountable to each other and they have to give 100 percent all the time. Darryl recognizes it's important to live in the moment and be prepared."

 And, yes, Sutter is the same coach.

 "It's funny, talking to guys like Darren Pang, Bruce Cassidy, Warren Rychel and Brian Noonan, who all played on that team, and they all ask the same question about Darryl. The core of the game, to him, hasn't changed," Playfair said.

 "He's a better coach on the technical side but what's really important hasn't changed. The players need to know you're with them in the battle and you will give them 100 percent to prepare them but also to get out of the way to let them enjoy it and do their jobs." <


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