Paul Coffey

Paul Coffey, hockey player (born 1 June 1961 in Weston, ON). Known for his smooth, quick skating style and skill at playmaking, Paul Coffey was one of the National Hockey League's best offensive defensemen during his 21 seasons as a player.

Coffey, Paul, hockey player
(courtesy Canadian Press Images)

Paul Coffey, hockey player (born 1 June 1961 in Weston, ON). Known for his smooth, quick skating style and skill at playmaking, Paul Coffey was one of the National Hockey League's best offensive defensemen during his 21 seasons as a player.

Early Hockey Career

Coffey began his hockey career at age 17 when he joined the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League's Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. The following year, 1979, he joined the Kitchener Rangers. His hard work that season was rewarded, and he amassed 29 goals and 102 assists to become a member of the Ontario Hockey Association's Second All-Star Team. His talent did not go unrecognized by the Edmonton Oilers, who chose Coffey as their first-round draft pick (sixth overall) in 1980.

Edmonton Oilers

As a member of the Edmonton Oilers, Coffey became one of several young, dynamic teammates who excelled in Stanley Cup competition during the 1980s. In his second season with the team he led the league's defensemen in scoring (89 points) and was chosen to be part of the Second All-Star Team. He bested his scoring in 1983, amassing 96 points, and did so again in 1984 when he collected 126 points, breaking the elusive 100-point barrier and putting him second only to teammate Wayne Gretzky that season. To cap off their successful year, the team won its first Stanley Cup.

They won again in 1985, and Coffey achieved additional personal accolades when he won the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman (setting a record number of 48 goals and 90 assists) and was selected to the First All-Star Team. He would win the same titles the following year and help the team to an additional Stanley Cup championship in 1987. It was also during this time (1986) that Coffey exceeded Bobby Orr's record as a defenseman, scoring 48 goals to Orr's 46 in a single season. Coffey's long tenure with the Oilers came to an end in 1987 after a variety of disputes with coach Glenn Sather.

Later NHL Career

Throughout the 1990s Paul Coffey was traded to a number of teams that desired his offensive capabilities and specialized skills as a defenseman. The Pittsburgh Penguins chose to sign Coffey for the 1987–88 season, and he helped the team to its first Stanley Cup in 1991. In 1992 he joined the Los Angeles Kings, and in 1993 he was sent to the Detroit Red Wings but an injured knee hampered his play that season. He nonetheless led the Red Wings in scoring and was again awarded the Norris Trophy. In 1996 the Hartford Whalers acquired Coffey, and mid-way through the season he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. He would go to the Chicago Blackhawks (1998) and the Carolina Hurricanes (1999) before ending his career with the Boston Bruins. In 2000, after 18 games with the team and plagued by injuries, Coffey chose to retire.

Records and Honours

Paul Coffey ended his NHL career with a total of 396 goals and 1135 assists, for a total of 1,531 points in 1409 regular season games. He retired as the highest scoring defenseman in NHL playoff history, and the second-best defenseman in NHL regular season history behind Raymond Bourque. Winner of three Norris Trophies, Coffey was named to eight First and Second All-Star teams and represented Canada at four World Cup tournaments during his career. In recognition of his achievements, Coffey was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, his first year of eligibility. In 2005, the Oilers retired his jersey (#7), and Coffey joined four of his other teammates from the 1980s — Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr and Jari Kurri — who also had their Oiler numbers retired. In 2015, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.