Dump the coach: McKenzie

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Bob McKenzie's comments on TSN this week certainly turned a few heads in Calgary.

The hockey analyst became a hero to the many disgruntled Flames fans who have called for Jim Playfair's neck at various times this season when he suggested general manager Darryl Sutter should step behind the bench before tonight's important Game 3 at the Saddledome.

However, the veteran TV personality inserts a big 'but' in his recommendation.

"If the Calgary Flames ownership and management believe that Jim Playfair is a valued asset of the organization and will be coaching the team next year no matter what, I would never say fire him," McKenzie said over the phone yesterday.

"I'm not in the habit of saying this team should fire that coach or anything, that's simply not my style."

But if the Flames are leaning towards a coaching shake-up should they fall from the first round in four or five games, McKenzie says they have nothing to lose by making a switch immediately.

"If you believe there's a decent or better chance that they are going to make a coaching change if there's a quick exit here in the playoffs, then my point simply was don't wait and do it in two weeks or three weeks or four weeks when it doesn't matter," he said. "Make it now and see if -- hope against hope -- Darryl Sutter can get more out of the Flames than Playfair's gotten right now."

The Flames were basically no-shows in the first two contests in Detroit, giving up 97 shots and seven goals in 4-1 and 3-1 losses.

McKenzie acknowledges there is a chance the Flames can come back and make it a series but says from comments he's heard coming out of Calgary, it's reasonable to believe the coach's job isn't entirely safe.

"I've heard Darryl a couple of times talk about how he thinks he's given the coach everything he needs to have a successful team," McKenzie said.

"Conventional hockey wisdom would suggest that Playfair might be on thin ice.

"But I'm not professing to know the inner workings of the Flames. I've got nothing against Jim Playfair and I'm sure he's a real capable NHL coach."

The Flames weren't interested in commenting on the analyst's opinion.

"While we respect media opinion, we will not respond to media opinion or speculation," Flames vice-president of communications Peter Hanlon said on behalf of the organization.


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