My favorite defenceman of all time is none other than former Oiler Paul Coffey.
The Toronto native was drafted 6th overall by our Edmonton Oilers in 1980. He won three Stanley Cups before being dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins where he would win his final Stanley Cup in 1991. Throughout his career he racked up over 1500 points and was a career +294. He won the Norris trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman three times and was named to the First/Second All-Star teams eight times. In 2004 he was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Why was he my favorite? There are a few reasons but I think it was my parents that really turned me on to the player that Paul Coffey was. My dad liked him because he was the best skater in the world (my dad was a horrible skater with moulded micron skates) and he was old enough to remember Bobby Orr yet here was this young guy playing for HIS team breaking Orr’s records. To put that into context that’s like McDavid coming in and breaking Gretzky’s records… The ones that everyone says are unbreakable. So it’s hard not to become a fan of the guy. My mother liked him because she thought he was handsome and being the mommy’s boy that I was I made sure I liked him too so that I could get approval from her every time I seen a highlight on tv or a press clipping in the Edmonton Journal.
But I loved the way he would rush the puck from end-to-end. His shot was low, hard, and accurate. He knew exactly where to be on the rush or in the offensive zone and if he was caught out of place, he had legs like sequoia trees, he could be back in position before the other team had a chance to get set.
*Could you imagine if Coffey was playing for Dallas Eakins?… His two-way game needs to get better! Wait… Maybe some of our older readers can answer this but am I wrong in saying that Coffey used to get shat on quite a bit by the media in Edmonton for the amount of times he gave the puck away in a game? Now, I’m not the biggest advocator of Justin Schultz but there are some similarities between the two… Nothing earth shattering but I think there are some commonalities.*
To be honest I was a bit young to remember his time with the Oilers but I do remember him on the Penguins and the Red Wings and all the All-Star Fastest Skater competitions.
I often wonder if we’ll ever see another Paul Coffey. I guess now we have Erik Karlsson but the game has changed so much and it’s changing again in favor of the skilled player. So maybe someday we could see a dynamic end-to-end defenceman emerge but until then we’re left with memories of Coffey to satisfy us.
So with that I’ll leave you with a 13 minute clip of Paul Coffey’s days as an Oiler. Perfect to sit down and enjoy your morning coffee with!
Who was your favorite defender of all time?