It took something as big as the current NHL lockout for the Playfair brothers to finally lace up their skates with the same club. Yesterday, Jim Playfair, the Calgary Flames assistant coach, and older brother Larry, a former Buffalo Sabres blueliner, suited up in the Esso 3-on-3 Hockey Classic, marking the first time they've played on the same team.
Normally, Jim wouldn't be able to participate but with the NHL work stoppage, he had a little free time on his hands and things worked out in terms of the rosters as he and Larry both donned Sabres jerseys.
"Ball hockey in the basement," said Jim, who played 21 NHL games with Edmonton and Chicago, after his Sabres beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in their first game of the tournament.
"We're never played together in our lives and I'm really thankful I got to play with Larry. It was a great opportunity."
Both played defence during their hockey careers and Larry, 46, echoed his younger brother's sentiments.
"It was a riot out there on the ice with him," said Larry, who played 688 games with Buffalo and Los Angeles, racking up 1,812 penalty minutes throughout his career before he retired in 1990.
"These guys do a terrific job and I don't think you could do this in a different town and get 56 players together."
The brothers, who grew up in Fort St. James, B.C., couldn't help their team get into the tournament semifinals but Jim did enjoy a small moment of glory after the Sabres triumph over the Blackhawks, who had their lineup bolstered by Flames head GM/coach Darryl Sutter.
"It wasn't a very important game -- they say it's the second one that counts and you have to win that -- but it was fun to beat him," said Jim with a laugh, even though he failed to bulge the twine against his boss' club.
For both Playfair brothers, it was the first time they'd played in the event and Jim was amazed at the intensity out on the ice.
"The guys are still competitive out there, I guess it never goes away," he said.
The Boston Bruins, with a second round victory, ended any hope the siblings might have when it came to winning the tournament.