Thursday, August 18, 2005

Coffey To The Rafters

By Nick Faris
Red Line Corp. Writer

Paul Coffey is joining Wayne Gretzky.

No, he won't be making his head coaching debut on October 5th, but he will be joining him in he rafters of Rexall Place. Coffey's #7 will be retired on October 18th, joining Gretzky (99), Jari Kurri (17), Grant Fuhr (31), and Al Hamilton (3). Ironically, Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes will be in town that day as Gretzky makes his Edmonton coaching debut.

When the 7 is lifted onto the roof of Rexall Place, it will be icing on the cake for Coffey, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Toronto last November (with fellow defencemen Ray Bourque and Larry Murphy, as well as builder Cliff Fletcher.) Coffey, of course, won 2 Norris Trophies and helped Edmonton win three Stanley Cups in four years (He wasn't with Edmonton for their 1988 win).

Coffey is Edmonton's fifth-highest career scorer, netting 209 goals and 669 points, en route to setting 10 NHL records during his 21-year career (he is second in the race for that record - Wayne Gretzky has 61, one of them for most records). Showing how fantastic the Edmonton dynasty really was, Coffey is the NHL's 10th-highest career scorer (but only the Oilers' fifth, of course).

Coffey was an integral part of the Oilers' 1980s dynasty, aiding them to their first three cups. Said to be the only player who could pick up speed while coasting, Coffey was arguably the fastest player in hockey history (although Bobby Orr is also a strong consideration). Coffey played like the great Orr, taking chances offensively and carrying the puck up. He was, in my opinion, the second-greatest defenceman ever, just behind the Bruins #4.

Kevin Lowe was extremely pleased to see Coffey's accomplishments recognized. "He had incredible skating skills, and could break out in the blink of an eye. Paul also had great hands and the ability to control the puck. It's great to see Paul's achievements as a player, and an Edmonton Oiler, recognized."

It ought to be an interesting contest the day the number 7 is raised to the rafters of Rexall Place, what with Wayne Gretzky being there to coach. Paul Coffey, obviously, is not joining Gretzky in the sense that he'll be a coach, but he'll have his special night just the same.


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