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Five Questions With...

Five Questions with Paul Coffey

Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman shares thoughts on life since retirement, Oilers captain McDavid

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs each Tuesday throughout the 2017-18 regular season. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the most recent news.

The latest edition features four-time Stanley Cup winner and Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey.

 

EDMONTON -- Paul Coffey's 21 NHL seasons as an elite defenseman were marked by his extraordinary gifts of fast feet, quick thinking and soft hands.

And winning.

Coffey won the Stanley Cup four times, three with the Edmonton Oilers (1984, 1985, 1987) and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991). He also won the Norris Trophy as the League's best defenseman three times (1985, 1986, 1995).

The 56-year-old from Weston, Ontario, finished with 100 or more points five times and ended his NHL career with 1,531 points (396 goals, 1,135 assists) in 1,409 regular-season games for the Oilers, Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.

Coffey played 194 Stanley Cup Playoff games, finishing with 196 points (59 goals, 137 assists). His greatest postseason performance -- 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists, four game-winning goals) in 18 games -- helped the Oilers win the Cup in 1985.

Video: Paul Coffey is one of three D-men to score 40 goals

That Oilers team was voted the No. 1 Greatest NHL Team by fans as part of the League's Centennial celebrations.

Coffey, who retired after the 2000-01 season, is the League's second highest-scoring defenseman behind Ray Bourque (1,579 points). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004 and named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players on Jan. 1, 2017.

Coffey continues to be a mover and shaker in his post-NHL days, owning car dealerships in the Toronto area, coaching his son's hockey team and finding time to participate in NHL Alumni outdoor games. Most recently, he played in the alumni games at the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in Winnipeg and the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic in Toronto.

"I've got lots going on," Coffey said during a visit to the NHL Centennial Fan Arena in Edmonton, where he helped the League and the Royal Canadian Mint unveil a special-edition coin to commemorate the League's 100th anniversary. "I'm coaching my kids. I have four or five businesses and doing that is a lot harder than hockey was. But it all keeps me interested and keeps my mind going, and I'm pretty happy with things."

Here are Five Questions with … Paul Coffey:

 

Connor McDavid is in his third NHL season. What do you think of the Oilers captain?

"Phenomenal. Connor is as good as there is in the game right now. And the beauty of it is that I still think the best player in the game is 87 in Pittsburgh (Sidney Crosby), and he's not giving it up. If Connor wants to get to that level, he's got to keep going, and that's what makes Sid great as well."

Video: DAL@EDM: McDavid buries a filthy top-shelf wrister

 

The Oilers' first month of the season was a struggle at 3-7-1. After such a good season in 2016-17 and reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 11 years, what do you think is happening?

"I've watched most games. They got off to a good start in the first game (a 3-0 win against the Calgary Flames on Oct. 4) but have had a bit of a tough go. But they're on everybody's radar. Everybody knows how good they are. Everybody wants to beat them every single night. Unfortunately, whether it's today's game or 100 years ago, you've got to play good every night. They've just got to start bringing it a little bit more."

 

Nearly everyone we talk to around the League notices the speed of today's game. As a great skater and a player who loved speed, what's your impression of that?

"There's no hitting anymore. Listen, the players are bigger, stronger, faster. One hundred percent. I think as a fan and a former player, I'd like to see a little bit of … not obstruction but some contact, stuff you should be able to do to slow people down. I'm not sure if it's the physical part of the game or not, but there's something that's missing a little bit. But I'll tell you what, when it gets going, I love to watch it."

 

Of all the elite defensemen in the League during the past five years, which one impresses you the most and why?

"There are a lot of them. I like Erik Karlsson's risk to the game. I watched him the other night and they got smoked by Montreal, and he's minus-6 and it doesn't bother him. He comes back the next game and had three or four assists and that's great. I like them all. They move the puck and they get pucks through and they have some speed and they headman the puck well. I love that."

 

The 1984-85 Oilers were voted by the fans as the best team of the NHL's first 100 years. What other Stanley Cup team would you like to have taken those Oilers against?

"Listen, we're honored and privileged to have our team named the best of all time. But that's unfair to a lot of great hockey players -- the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins, among others. There have been some great teams. and we're just the one that got that last critical vote, I guess. How about Bobby Orr and the Bruins in the 1970s? They were pretty special, too. And the Philadelphia Flyers' teams; they had a different brand of hockey but were so good. I think that [Oilers] team could have played against anybody and had some success."

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