After an unexpected run to the second round of the AHL post-season in 2009-10, the Abbotsford Heat have struggled this season and currently find themselves out of a playoff position and with limited time to turn things around, with just four games remaining in the regular season following tonight's 1-0 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Although the Heat have not yet been mathematically eliminated from the AHL playoff race, much like their parent club, their days are numbered--and those of Head Coach Jim Playfair could be too, according to the Abbotsford Times' Cam Tucker, who reported Friday that Playfair's contract is set to expire at the end of this season.
Since being let go by the Flames in the summer of 2007 and joining the Abbotsford Heat in 2009, Playfair has arguably done a lot with very little. He guided an under-manned team lacking offensive firepower to the second round of the AHL playoffs in his first season as Head Coach, and the Heat are on the bubble again this spring, despite a negative goal differential and the fact that the team has lost 600 man games to injury over the course of the past two seasons.
The Heat are struggling to find the twine again this season, scoring at a rate of 2.36 goals per game through 76 games for a total of 179 goals for, the lowest in the league and 38 less than their 2009-10 total of 217. The one area where the team has demonstrated some improvement this season is goals against, allowing 30 less goals than last season's total of 231 with just four games remaining in the season. Much of this success can be attributed to the improved play of goaltender Leland Irving, who has a 2.34 GAA and a .912 SV% in 58 games with the Heat this season.
If Jay Feaster or whomever else is in charge of the Flames this summer decides to go in a different direction, Playfair could certainly get some looks from other AHL teams, and could quite possibly land himself a job in the big league once again. After two seasons with little in the way of success under the current coaching staff, a return to the Flames may not be out of the question for Playfair, who was with the team for six seasons before re-locating to interior British Columbia.
What do you think the future holds for Jim Playfair?