Be A Player: Rewind | Paul Coffey

Originally aired Feb. 29, 1996, this week’s BAP: Rewind features a relaxed, lakeside Paul Coffey fresh off his 1994-95 Norris Trophy-winning campaign.

Paul Coffey

NHLPA Member 1980-2001
4x Stanley Cup champion (1983-84, 1984-85, 1986-87, 1990-91)
3x James Norris Memorial Trophy Winner (1984-85, 1985-86,1994-95)
16-39-55 over 28 games stands as longest point streak by a defenceman
48 goals in 1985-86 stand as a single-season record for a defenceman
396 goals, 1,135 assists, 1,531 points over 1,409 games played

"I'd like to think of myself as a guy that enjoys the game.. enjoys passing things on and helping the young guys, and to me that's what the game's all about."
- Paul Coffey

The year was 1996, the host was Paul Romanuk, and the player was Paul Coffey.

In this Be A Player episode, Coffey is moving at a much slower pace off the ice at his lakeside retreat at the time – his Muskoka, Ontario cottage. 

Fresh off his third Norris Trophy-winning season, the former defenceman speaks to the highs and lows of his illustrious career, from losing out to the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs as a Detroit Red Wing, to the rush of the seconds ticking down on the clock before hoisting his first Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers – the first for the franchise.

Ever-cognizant of the shifting landscape of athletic conditioning, Coffey discusses the balance of team-bonding away from the rink and the 12-month training needed to maintain peak form.

Special appearances include Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Craig Simpson, John Davidson, and Brendan Shanahan who shows off his American hockey trivia!

Then and now

Coffey helped bring the team that drafted him first overall in 1980 all the way to the promised land for a Stanley Cup three times. He went on to lift the most coveted trophy in hockey a fourth and final time with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1990-91 season, and was on his way to becoming a three-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner.

The former blueliner left it all out on the ice and a slew of records behind that undoubtedly inspired future NHL careers. He surpassed the 100-point mark in his career five times, just one of two defenceman in NHL history to ever achieve the feat more than once. It's impossible to point out one single achievement as a defining moment, but for those unlucky enough not to witness Coffey's prowess firsthand, it is best exemplified by his 1985-86 campaign. En route to a 48-goal NHL record of its own for a defenceman, Coffey also strung together 28 games in which he tallied a point – still the benchmark for the longest point streak in the league by a defenceman.

NHL.com recently shared a great story about a game that same record-breaking season, a game in which Coffey tied Tom Bladon for the most points (8) in a game by a defenceman.

"Wayne turned to me and asked, 'Do you know the record for points in a game by a defenseman?' I didn't know, but Wayne knew all the stats, all the records.

"'No,' I told him. 'It's eight,' Wayne said. 'Let's go.'

"And I went out and got four more. Didn't beat the record, but I tied it."

Coffey suited up for nine different clubs over his 1,409 NHL games played – the Oilers, Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Red Wings, Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, and Boston Bruins. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, and sits second behind Ray Bourque in all-time NHL goals, assists, and points by a defenceman.

These days, you'll also find his name peppered around rinks and parks of the region he grew up in. The city of Mississauga renamed Malton Arena to Paul Coffey Arena, and renamed Wildwood Park to Paul Coffey Park in 2016.

His most recent of accolades includes being named one of the 100 Greatest NHL players in 2017 as part of the NHL's centennial celebration.

Paul is now a car dealership owner in his home province of Ontario, where he currently resides with his wife Stephanie and their three children.


Full Be A Player: Rewind series here