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TALKING POINTS: Greatest NHL team

Here are quotes by Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Charles Barkley from the Greatest NHL Team press conference

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

Here are some interesting quotes from the Greatest NHL Team press conference featuring Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Charles Barkley.

Video: Wayne Gretzky on being part of the Greatest NHL Team

 

ON '80S OILERS BEING A COMPLETE TEAM

"Well, listen, to be a Stanley Cup champion, you have to have a whole package. You got to be fast. You got to be strong. You got to be offensive. You got to have good goaltending. You got to have good coaching. You got to be good defensively. You got to be really disciplined. You got to have that will to want to win. We had a will to want to win. I've told this story many times before. I had lunch with Bryan [Trottier] one time, the first time he won the Stanley Cup. I was a young kid. I said to him, What does it feel like to lift the Stanley Cup? He started going into this dialogue. He said, You know, I wish every player could get that chance to win it. And then he stopped himself. He said, But not everybody does get that chance. That's what makes winning the Stanley Cup so special. So from our point of view, our team, we were unselfish, we worked hard. Consequently, we were able to lift that Stanley Cup. That's what it's all about." - Wayne Gretzky

 

ON INCREASING SCORING IN THE NHL

"Well, listen, I've said this before. These kids today are so good. They're so big, they're so fast. The equipment is better. The goaltending, they're bigger, better athletes. Grant Fuhr, Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur changed goaltenders in the '80s. Athletes became goaltenders. The best athletes on teams are the goaltenders. It starts there. It makes it more difficult to score. At a young age now, we're taught so much about defensive hockey. In the old days, with Beliveau and Bobby Orr and Guy Lafleur, myself, Messier, we used to throw a puck on the pond, you would skate, play three-on-three, four-on-four."

"The game now is so structured. Two of the better defensive players in the game today are Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, 19 years old and 20 years old. They're taught so much about the game from the defensive side of the puck. So the way the game is now, it's much more defensive. It's harder to score 40 goals today than it was when we played. I'm the first guy to acknowledge that. I came around in the right era. I played with the right organization, the right players, at the right time. It's a lot tougher now to be a 40-goal-scorer. But that doesn't mean the game is different, it just means it's better today. These kids are really good." - Wayne Gretzky

 

ON THE DIFFICULTY OF BEING A REPEAT STANLEY CUP WINNER

"Listen, once we developed the revenue sharing to strengthen the league, make teams from 1 through 30 competitive, it made it difficult. A guy like Stan Bowman I think has done a wonderful job. He's got such a great team, yet he has to be able to manage that, let guys go, still be competitive."

"It's probably a little bit harder today with the salary cap to build a dynasty, build teams that can win two or three years in a row. The advantage Pittsburgh has, when you have a player like [Sidney} Crosby and {Evgeni} Malkin, obviously that gives you a foot forward, obviously gives you a little bit of an advantage."

This is a tough situation for all these teams in the National Hockey League. Anybody can get to the Stanley Cup Final now. We have 1 through 16 that make the playoffs, the L.A. Kings proved, finishing 8th, that you can win a Stanley Cup. Nashville finished 8th this year, and they're in the Stanley Cup Final. From that point of view, the business side of the game has changed." - Wayne Gretzky

 

WHICH TEAM WOULD GIVE THE 1984-85 OILERS THE BEST CHALLENGE

"For me, it's the '91 Penguin team. The athletes have a lot of pride. Mario [Lemieux] and I would have battled against each other. We had so much respect for each other, said this a million times, that he was the best player I ever played against. That fires you up as athletes. You want to compete against the best."

"Whether I was 18 years old playing against Guy Lafleur or 28 years old playing against Mario, that's what the game is about."

"With Tommy Barrasso and Grant Fuhr, guys like that, the question would have been is Coffey on our team or their team? That could have been the difference (laughter). We would have taken them back." - Wayne Gretzky

 

WHAT DO HOCKEY AND BASKETBALL ATHLETES HAVE IN COMMON?

"Number one, I told my favorite hockey player of all time is Ron Hextall. I want to know if my guy really cares. If you watch Ron play, you know he really wanted to win. So he's my favorite hockey player."

"You know, a lot of the brothers, we root for Seth Jones because his father played in the NBA."

"We don't know a lot about hockey. We probably should pay more attention to the regular season because there's nothing more nerve-wracking than Stanley Cup overtime hockey. It's the craziest thing you ever gonna see. That's one reason I just love the sport."

"The one thing that all great players have in common is teammates. What I mean by that is, you see what Kevin Durant is doing now? Man, when you play with great players, like this, the game is so easy for you. Kevin Durant has always been great."

"I give an example. I'm not comparing myself, it's not about me. I won MVP when I went to Phoenix. I was a much better player in Philly. When they gave me Dan Majerle, Kevin Johnson, Whoa, these are the easiest 25 points ever. When you get 30 points in a game, it's a lot of hard work. When you get 25, you're like, Man, I don't have to do everything."

"I think you're seeing that with Kevin Durant. He's a great player. When you play with other great players, it is the easiest thing in the world. Like obviously they are better than people. When they get teammates who take some of the responsibility where they don't have to get every rebound, score every basket, get every stop, the game is just so easy."

"That's what they have in common. They have some good teammates. Obviously Wayne, Michael, Larry, Magic, they're great. But the game is great for them when they're playing with other great players." - Charles Barkley

 

ON THE NASHVILLE PREDATORS' DEFENCE CORE

"Pretty impressive. I mean, they're mobile. They make great plays. They defend well. To me, all six of them play the game the way the game should be played. There's not a lot of plays that are safe. That's the reason why their forwards certainly last game got a goal. They make a great first pass, stick-to-stick. They can play in any single era. It's nice to watch." - Paul Coffey

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