SUN Hockey Pool

New NHL just like the Coffey days of old

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Can you imagine Paul Coffey in his prime playing in the 'New NHL'?

"It would be great," he said. "It was great."

It wouldn't, he suggests, be a whole lot different than it was playing for the Edmonton Oilers when they were winning Stanley Cups in the '80s. "In the '80s it was the way we had it. But the league got stalled."

The Oilers were so good four-on-four that the league, led by Cliff Fletcher in Calgary, outlawed the four-on-four, which is now the entire five-minute overtime session.

Coffey virtually invented the transition game with the pass to Gretzky or Kurri flying up the wing. He just had to get it perfect with the red-line.

And as for dumping the puck in, Coffey laughs at that.

"Why dump it in? You have to work too hard to get the puck in the first place. With the Oilers we never had to dump it in. We had too many guys to get it to."

Would Coffey have put up anywhere near his numbers if he had come in during the total shutdown of the game in the previous several seasons?

"I doubt it," he said.

A lot of things depend on time and place and Coffey said he came in at the perfect time and in the perfect place.

"I'd talked to Washington before the draft and they said if I was available they were going to take me. They didn't. They took Darren Veitch instead. They had a defensive system in there. Where would I have been?

"This was the perfect time and place with the perfect coach," he said of Glen Sather, a guy he didn't get along with all so well, particularly in the beginning when he was so tough on him and in the end when he was doing Pocklington's business.

"He always encouraged players to be what they could be. Slats never gave you shit for being creative.

"This team scored 400 goals a year. That's a lot of goals," he said.

"That was the thing with Gretzky. It was hard work and heart.

"Every time he stepped on the ice, he was trying to score. If he had two in the first period, he wanted seven.

"We didn't play get-the-lead-and-sit-back-and-protect-it hockey. We had a killer instinct."

They called it 'Oilers Hockey' and it lives on in today's new rules, says Coffey.

"Kevin Lowe was instrumental in the new rules," he said of the member of the new competition committee.

"The fans can really get excited now. Coaches are starting to loosen up a bit. The game had come to be played in a pretty confined area.

"Fans have a lot to look forward to, especially in Edmonton. In 26 years, this team never changed its style."


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