Unless you’re lucky enough to be there to witness Paul Coffee Playing through the time of his head, you are unlikely to understand how important it is to the success Edmonton Oilers. Anyone can look at their stats line and be impressed by the eye-catching totals. However, these numbers don’t just tell us how integral his role in helping those teams find their identity and become the greatest team in NHL history.
As much as Glenn Anderson, Gary Curry, Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky were, those record-breaking aspects of the ’80s wouldn’t have come to fruition without a specific player who wore the number 7. From a numbers perspective, we’re talking about the only defending man in history who came close to the level of Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr.
The Coffey production delivered from 1981 to 1982 through 1985 to 1986 was absolutely stunning. During this five-year period, the future Hall of Famer amassed a run, (183 goals, 387 assists, and 570 points in 499 games), which held up positively against whatever similar stretch Orr had during his career.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no comparison between the two as all-around players but as an offensive weapon from the backend, The overall pick in the 1980 NHL entry draft more than holds him against Mr. Orr. Each player has had five of the ten best seasons in NHL history between defenders and The numbers are eerily similar.
As impressive as it is, it was the grace and elegance with which Kofi moved on the ice that made him so special. Whether holding the disc in his ridiculously smooth skating style or making precision-like passes forward, watching him play the game the way he did was special and something no one had seen since the Bruins’ days of #4.
Simply put, the hair was movable and the only thing hanging from the jaw like watching Weston, an Ontario native slip from one end of the rink to the other, was seeing Number 99 does what it does Every night. Hard to imagine but Kofi was good. His playing style allowed Oilers’ talent to think outside the box when attacking opposing teams.
Everyone knew a talented rearguard would lead or join the offensive line, and it was a weapon that no club other than the Orr-led Bruins had. Arguably besides Gretzky, the three-time Norris Cup winner was the most vital piece of the puzzle that led to the club’s enjoyment of the success it had.
While the Oilers managed to win a pair of championships after being traded with the Pittsburgh Penguins for Craig Simpson during the 1987-88 campaign, without Coffey in the mix, Edmonton was never the kind of team they did. There could have been no 400 seasons goals And chances are very good that none of these players will reach the levels they have… including the great player.
Paul Coffey was a special talent
Does anyone honestly think for a moment that it was just a coincidence that both Gretzky and Mario Lemieux enjoyed the most wonderful seasons of their careers with some blueliner as their teammate? No doubt the game today is a lot different than it was back then, but can you imagine the kind of damage Conor McDavid could do to someone like Kofi pushing from the backend?
Having a player with the ability to move ice at an elite level is an important piece to the puzzle that any team can have in their arsenal. This was the case at the time and remains true to this day. Although not considered a great defensive player, it wasn’t the disaster that some made him to the end of the rink.
The 14-time All-Star has never been someone to fall on the ice and block shots or engage fists on a regular basis but he’s played a sadder game which gives him credit for that. Also, he was adept at anticipating plays and turning the strange man’s impulse into an instant breakthrough and a potential scoring opportunity going the other way. Whether it was with Edmonton or on the international stage with Team Canada, it was the skill set he used to his advantage time and time again.
Like the rest of his Oilers teammates, Kofi kicked it up high in playoff time and nowhere was that more evident than during the team’s 1985 playoff run…12 goals, 25 assists, and 37 points in 18 games. Four of those goals were match winners and put the defender in the race for honors with Con Smith netminder grant four and Gretsky.
Regardless of point totals, his overall game was at a level he had never reached before and was a precursor to his record-breaking campaign that followed during the 1985-86 season. While that year’s MVP eventually went to the greatest player to ever step on a piece of ice, Paul Covey’s performance continues to be the measuring stick for all backers.
His goal, assist, and point total still stand like a National Hockey League match Recorded to this day. Chances are that no one will even come close to getting close to these signs in the near future, but doing so in a few games seems almost unimaginable. As far as the aforementioned “85-86” campaign goes, there are no words that can do justice to his performance. 48 goals, 90 assists, 138 points, +61 plus/minus rating and 28 consecutive points.
Ur is #1 but Paul Coffey isn’t far off
Kofi scored at least one point in 63 out of 79 games and earned at least three points in 17 of those games, including an eight-point effort against the Detroit Red Wings that matches someone’s record. He led the league with cut goals with nine, and ended with a seventh draw in goals with Lemieux and only three points from Pens’ star. Second place in scoring in the league But he recovered well the total of 215 points for the ridiculous Gretsky.
At 24, he surpassed Orr’s record of 46 goals in 1974-75, falling just one point off his career high of 139 from 1970-71. There has only been one more season in which the defender has reached To 40 goals in league history, that also came courtesy of the great Oilers Plowliner in 1983-84.
Paul Covey would go on to enjoy many other great seasons after leaving Edmonton, most notably with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. Alone, those years would probably have earned him induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but it was his years with the Oilers that put him among the top tier of the greats who ever played and one of the truly unique talents.
*Originally published November 2017
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