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BLOG: Playfair hire adding to the cohesiveness of Tippett's bench

"The style of play we like to play, the interactions on a day-to-day basis... and the way we prepare for the opposition has become very familiar to each other," newly-hired Oilers Associate Coach Jim Playfair said

by Jamie Umbach /

VANCOUVER, BC - In his new surroundings, Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett is turning to a familiar face.

The addition of Jim Playfair to his bench on Thursday as an associate coach to complement himself and assistant coach Glen Gulutzan isn't new for Tippett after the pair worked side by side for six seasons with the Arizona Coyotes from 2011-17.

"I know Jim very well," Tippett said during his media availability on Thursday prior to the NHL Draft. "The thing that attracts me to him is that I do know him so well. I think the start of our season is very important, and I wanted somebody who I worked with before there and really have a trust with.

"There's going to be so much to do and so many moving parts that you've got to have people who know how I work and I know how they work, so there's a trust factor there. I have a great amount of faith in him that the decisions he makes are ones that help us win."

In addition to sharing the bench in Arizona, the pair draw on a shared approach to the tactical side of the game and their experience in coaching roles around North America. Playfair's 21-year history as a coach began in the ECHL and IHL before the 55-year-old went on to win a Calder Cup with the Saint John Flames in 2001 and earn his first head coaching role in the NHL with the Calgary Flames in 2006.

"Dave and I have worked together for the block of time in Arizona, and it's worked out very well for us personally," Playfair said. "It hasn't been a success on the ice obviously that we'd like to have seen, but the style of play we like to play, the interactions on a day-to-day basis, the way we see the development of players, the way we see structure in the game, and the way we prepare for the opposition has become very familiar to each other.

"I think having a little head coaching experience in the game is important for the head coach. It's a two-coach league in the sense that two guys are really in charge and the rest of the staff are supporting the direction you're taking the group, and I think that's probably the biggest connection we have."

Cohesiveness in approach on the bench is paramount to Tippett, who'll delegate the penalty kill and defensive duties to Playfair and the power play to Gulutzan despite having his hand in each area.

"Coaches have their roles, but I touch on all of those," Tippett said. "I tend to be very collaborative, but you have one point person on those. Gully will do the PP, Jim will head up the PK, but all the coaches involved will sit down and go through it together."

After last working together during the 2016-17 season and taking time away from coaching roles, the opportunity to reunite in Edmonton was an exciting venture.

"We both look at the opportunity now to get back into the game," Playfair said. "We've both been out for a while, and the opportunity to come in with Ken Holland and having Gulutzan who we both have history with, we think that the ability to have our staff together is exciting and it gives us the opportunity to hopefully continue pushing this organization back into the win column."

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