For 21 National Hockey League seasons, Paul Coffey patrolled the blue line for nine different teams. The second all-time defencemen is a player turned fan and the game has changed a lot in the last 13 years since he retired.
“Just over-coached. It is not the coaches’ fault…they are all trying to do their best, but it is just over-coached,” he stated simply.
Coffey is a three time Stanley Cup winner with the Edmonton Oilers and holds multiple records. The Hall of Famer was in Moose Jaw over the weekend as one of the guest speakers for the 21st annual K+S Potash Canada/Kinsmen Celebrity Sports Banquet. Prior to speaking in front of a sold out crowd, Coffey spoke candidly with the Times-Herald about his career, the game and what he has been up to since retiring in 2000.
“I was a hockey guy and I still think that I am. Hockey players aren’t smart and I don’t say that in a bad way. We are just repetition guys, we are instinct guys, and we are quick thinking, reaction guys. I think, unfortunately right now, there is so much pressure on winning that I feel bad for the coaches,” Coffey explained the difference in the game. “It is the same sized rink; it is the same amount of guys on the rink. It is just the fundamentals…the team that is fundamentally strong is going to win. It is a game of mistakes and as a coach; you want to encourage guys to try things so there will be mistakes.”
Coffey was known for his speed and scoring ability that saw him have three consecutive 100+ point seasons. He won the Norris Trophy three times and was also successful on the international stage as part of Team Canada.
He feels the game is too restrictive now and that despite the rule changes that have been made; the game isn’t as entertaining as it used to be.
“From a fans’ point of view, the game is sometimes boring enough that we don’t need mistake-free hockey then it is real boring. I just wish the game was more attack and go-go-go and it wasn’t as sit back as it is,” he stated. “I’d just like to be entertained. I look at a sporting event like going to a concert…you want to be entertained and you want to forget what you just left.”
For more on this story, read an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.