top of page
  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

4 Cups for Paul Coffey

Starting with a quick personal aside: this will be the last post for perhaps a couple of months as I am currently taking my final course in grad school. Once June hits we can get back to talking 90s hockey. And heck, I may even find time for a post on occasion before then!

Now on to the hockey. Much like my Mario Lemieux post, Paul Coffey gets his own dedicated post simply because he accomplished so much in his 21 year career. In terms of defencemen who could generate offense, Coffey has to be in the top three, alongside Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque. Now Bourque and Coffey had the pleasure of playing during the highest scoring era in hockey, and unlike Orr, were extremely healthy throughout their careers.

Although Coffey scored almost two-thirds of his career points in the 1980s, he still stacks up pretty well in the 1990s as compared to other defencemen from that decade:

  1. Ray Bourque: 173 goals and 680 points.

  2. Brian Leetch: 148 goals and 640 points.

  3. Al MacInnis: 175 goals and 598 points.

  4. Paul Coffey: 113 goals and 575 points.

  5. Phil Housley: 135 goals and 572 points.

  6. Larry Murphy: 134 goals and 566 points.

  7. Chris Chelios: 96 goals and 523 points.

  8. Nicklas Lidstrom: 121 goals and 496 points.

  9. Kevin Hatcher: 165 goals and 480 points.

  10. Steve Duchesne: 144 goals and 479 points.

This top 10 list provides some pretty lofty company, with seven of these players ranking top 10 in all-time defencemen scoring (again, 1990s bias, but so be it).

Card 177 - Paul Coffey

Defenceman Coffey was drafted sixth overall by Edmonton in the 1980 draft. He would make his NHL debut at the age of 19 in 1980-81, scoring 9 goals and 32 points. Over the next five seasons, Coffey would re-write the NHL record book for offense generated by a defenceman:

  • Scored 29+ goals each season, with two 40+ goal season. Coffey scored 48 goals in 1985-86, setting the single-season scoring record for a defenceman. He also scored nine shorthanded goals that season;

  • Scored 89+ points each, with three seasons of 100+ points. In 85-86 he scored 138 points, second all-time for a single season by a defenceman;

  • Recorded a +50 rating or better each season;

  • Named a first-team all-star twice and second team all-star three times;

  • Won the Norris Trophy, finishing as a finalist two other times;

  • Finished fourth in Hart Trophy voting in 1985-86;

  • Won two Stanley Cups, setting a single-season record for playoff scoring by a defenceman in 1985-86 with 12 goals and 37 points.

1986-87 would Coffey’s final season in Edmonton, scoring 17 goals and 67 points in 59 games, winning his third Stanley Cup. A contract dispute with the Oilers would lead to him sitting out the start of the 1987-88 season before being traded to Pittsburgh with Dave Hunter and Wayne Van Dorp for Craig Simpson, Dave Hannan, Moe Mantha and Chris Joseph.

In three full seasons with the Pens, Coffey would score 24+ goals each season and 100+ points twice. He was named to two all-star teams (one first and one second) and was runner up for the Norris in 1988-89. Coffey would win his fourth Cup in 1991 but missed significant chunks of the regular season and playoffs due to injury.

In February 1992 he was traded to Los Angeles for Brian Benning, Jeff Chychryn and a 1st round pick. Coffey would play 60 games with the Kings before being traded to Detroit as part of the Kings’ reacquisition of Jimmy Carson.

With his career revitalized with the great Wings teams of the 1990s, Coffey would record 70+ points twice and in 1994-95 would be named a first team all-star, finish fourth in Hart Trophy voting and win his third Norris Trophy (his first in nine seasons). The Wings would make the Cup Final but be swept by New Jersey.

After a falling out with coach Scotty Bowman, Coffey would be traded on the eve of the 1996-97 season, going to Hartford for a package that included Brendan Shanahan. He would play 20 games for the Whalers before being traded to Philadelphia for Kevin Haller and a 1st round pick. After two average seasons with the Flyers, and another Cup Final appearance in 1997, Coffey would be traded to Chicago during the 1998 off-season for a draft pick. After 10 games with the Hawks he would be moved Hartford’s new location, Carolina, for Nelson Emerson.

During the 1999-2000 season, at age 38, Coffey would score 11 goals and 40 points. For the 2000-01 season he would sign with Boston, playing 18 games before his eventual release and subsequent retirement in December 2000.

In 21 NHL seasons Coffey played in 1409 games, scoring 396 goals and 1531 points. He ranks sixth all-time in assists and 13th in points. He is the second highest scoring defenceman of all-time, having been passed by Ray Bourque, with Bourque playing 200 games more. Six times in his career did Coffey finish top 10 in NHL scoring, including runner up in 1983-94. He also appeared in 14 all-star games (1982-86, 88-94, 96 & 97).

In terms of single season records, Coffey is first, third and seventh for goals by a defenseman in a single season, and second, fourth, sixth, ninth and tenth for points. Not surprisingly, he was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

Since retirement he dabbled in coaching, spending time in youth hockey in the GTA (2012-15) and with the Oilers as a skills coach from 2017-18. Most recently he was an assistant coach with Canada at the 2019 Spengler Cup.

YouTube clip: his highlight video from being named one of the NHL's Top 100 players.

7 views0 comments


bottom of page