Toronto, ON – It’s been an interesting season for the TMU Bold’s Chris Playfair.
Although he’s only in his second-year, Playfair has been relied upon in a veteran role. At the beginning of the season, he looked as though he was going to be one of the top scorers on the team, however a second-half drought hasn’t stopped him from showing up to the rink each day with something to prove.
With the Queen’s Cup playoffs fast approaching, 49 Sports’ Michael Pagani sat down with Chris Playfair to speak about his time at his experiences, his time at TMU, and how his Memorial Cup title with the Windsor Spitfires in 2017 might be able to help in in his playoff push with the Bold in 2023.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity
Michael Pagani: What’s it like playing in the old Maple Leaf Gardens?
Chris Playfair: It’s definitely special. My dad grew up a huge Leafs fan, so that flowed down to me. I’m a huge Leafs fan. A lot of my dad’s heroes have played at the old Maple Leaf Gardens. When I committed to TMU, my dad was super happy to hear it, and I believe we have the best rink in the country.
MP: Did you go to many Waterloo Warriors since you were born there?
CP: Honestly, no. For me, I went to a ton of Kitchener Rangers games growing up. Watching the Rangers play actually also helped me get into the OHL.
MP: How difficult is it managing school and hockey?
CP: For sure. It’s definitely difficult managing school and playing hockey at the same time. But you just have to prioritize your time and plan ahead. It does get super busy for me around midterms and finals and I’ve had success academically. You just need to have good time management skills and be really disciplined.
MP: Take me through that championship Memorial Cup run with the Windsor Spitfires in 2016-17
CP: That was memorable because we had 44 days off leading up to the Memorial Cup. We lost in the first round to the [London] Knights, and our coach, Rocky Thompson, told us to go home for the weekend and rest up. Rocky had a plan for us every day after that weekend of rest. It was sometimes two workouts a day that we had to do, and that brought me to another level. One of the factors that I believe for us winning that championship was how the whole team handled the time off, as well it brought us closer, and that’s why it was super memorable for me.
MP: You’ve worn the A for the Spitfires in the past. With much of the leadership core aging out, how does that set you up for being next in line in that regard?
CP: Leadership has always been a part of my game. You just have to be yourself. Throughout my short time here, it’s really helped me transform into being a leader on the team. When we get young guys coming in each year, it’s really important to make sure they adapt to the team’s culture. But for me personally, I stick to my personality and my work ethic and just focus on helping the younger guys if they ever need any.
MP: You’ve gotten great playoff experience so far with the Bold. What’s one piece of advice you’d pass down to the rookies?
CP: It’s not over until it’s over. Just look at what we had to go through last year. We were down in the series facing elimination, and down in the third period looking like the season was going to be over. You have to keep pushing, and I believe our team is ready for adversity as most of the team is still together from last year.
MP: Why do you wear #14?
CP: That’s a funny story. Johnny’s brother, Mike, wore #14 when he played for the Kitchener Rangers, and since I was from that area and went to a lot of games, I got to see Mike play a lot. Mike was my favourite player then, and he wore #14. When I was around seven years old, that was the first time we could choose numbers, and thankfully, I won the “lottery” and chose #14. When I committed to the team, I made sure that Johnny put that number aside for me.
MP: How do you spend your offseasons?
CP: They’re super busy. I run a hockey school in Kitchener-Waterloo called Prolific Hockey. It’s between three-to-six hours a day on the ice. I’m coaching kids, junior hockey players and pro players. When you have this going on, it’s definitely a challenge to find time for yourself to get skates in with full gear on. As much as I would love to say I spend it on the beach, I’m always at the rink.
MP: Have you liked where this season has gone for your individual performance?
CP: My point production at the beginning of the year was great. I wouldn’t use the term “slump” because I really like where my game is at right now. I would say that I’m just snakebitten but I’ve been working really hard in practice to get out of this snakebitten phase.
MP: The Bold will be hosting U SPORTS Nationals next year. What does it mean to have that?
CP: It’s super exciting. I think it will do a lot for the school and the team in terms of recruiting. For the veterans of the group, it will be our moment to shine. This year, we want to get back to Nationals; that’s been our goal the entire year. I’m excited about us being the host, and I know the boys will be fired up when the time comes.
Chris Playfair and the TMU Bold begin their quest for the 2023 Queen’s Cup on Feb 15 against the Toronto Varsity Blues.
Read 49 Sports previous sit down with TMU Bold goaltender Kai Edmonds