By Annie Fowler | Tri-City Herald
Jackson Playfair stood in the visitors dressing room at Comcast Arena in Everett last Friday taking in the sights and sounds of his new team.
Playfair, 19, who spent 11⁄2 years with the Spokane Chiefs before a trade last week sent him to Spokane’s biggest rival — the Tri-City Americans — accepted his new jersey, No. 24, with an open mind.
“They have me wearing my brother’s number from back in camp,” said Playfair, whose younger brother Austyn signed with Tri-City in August. “He wore it in for me. It’s nice to be able to step in and put it on. It was a change, something I didn’t think I would be doing, but I’m happy to do it. I thought my chest might burn a bit from the logo, but it was all good. It fit right.”
Playfair is one of two new additions to the Americans, who revamped their roster at the WHL trade deadline last week. Also joining the Americans, who are back on the ice Friday in Seattle, is defenseman Josh Thrower, 17, who was acquired from Calgary.
As the new came in, four familiar faces said good-bye — veteran forwards Connor Rankin (to Calgary) and Marcus Messier (to Spokane), and defensemen Wil Tomchuk (to Prince George) and Jeff Hubic, whom the Americans sent down to the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“We have a pretty good run over the last seven years,” said Tri-City general manager Bob Tory. “We have been very fortunate. This has been a tough year with the injuries, but we have never used injuries as an excuse. We had that long losing streak, which was a 10-year record, and that didn’t make me happy. There were some things going on with the culture within the room that weren’t acceptable. From my standpoint, when that happens things have to change.”
And change they did. The Americans moved four 19-year-old players, got one back in return in Playfair, and added Thrower. After all the moves, the Americans’ average age is 17.83 — making them the youngest team in the WHL.