Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Some Cream And Sugar For That Coffey?

An excellent post on Paul Coffey, courtesy of Colby Cosh. It also raises an interesting argument about Tim Raines and Ricky Henderson, but I digress. For years upon years, I have heard the hockey orthodoxy that Bobby Orr was the greatest defenceman, indeed the greatest player, of all time. I never Orr saw play, so I have never openly commented on it, but in my heart I have always been a doubter. Call it youthful naivety, or the dedication of a homer, but without a doubt in my heart and mind, Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player ever, and Paul Coffey is the best defenceman. In my mind, Coffey has never received the credit he is due. He has been a victim of playing on the Oilers during the early 80's--as if any defenceman could score 48 goals and gain 90 assists in a season-- as well as a victim of his journeyman-like status near the end of his career. Cosh has noted Coffey's importance to Team Canada, especially his play in 1984, but I think it should also be noted that his play in both Pitssburgh and Detroit helped raise those teams to the status of Stanley Cup powerhouse. He only won one in Pittsburgh, and didn't win any in Detroit, but I don't think it was a coincidence that the teams became contenders with him in the lineup, and were able to translate that into Cup victories after he had gone.

Here is a question, though, and I don't know if it has been covered in any msm coverage: Would Coffey's number be retired in Edmonton if Glen Sather was still in charge?

Actually, I have one more. Forgive me if I am wrong, but am I correct in thinking that no Oiler player has ever worn the numbers 99, 11, and 4 other than Gretzky, Messier and Lowe? And what about #17? I remember Shane Corson wearing #9, Cujo wearing #31 and Jason Arnott wearing #7, but have the other numbers ever been re-used? Obviously 99 wasn't, but what about #11 and #4?


At 2:24 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Did Scott Thornton wear #17, or am I just crazy?

At 2:27 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Damn it all to hell! None of the hockey pages I have looked at list numbers for the players. And my Hockey Bible is packed up for moving this weekend. GAH! This is driving me mad.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger G-Dog said...

Rem Murray, Scott Thornton and Cam Connor were the others to wear 17. Only Messier and Lowe have worn their numbers. There is a great Oilers Almanac site (http://soudog.tripod.com/Oilmanac.htm)

As far as Orr goes, I did not see him play either, but after some reflection I can definitely see how people can argue that he is the best ever. I don't agree, (to me that spot is reserved for Gretzky) but try some of these numbers on for size:

- Orr'sbest +/- in a season was +124. Gretzky's best was +98
- Orr's +/- over his career was a cumulative +597
- for some perspective, Nik Lidstrom's best season was +43 and he is +277 for his career
- Over 13 years, Orr played only 657 games, but had 953 points and 915 penalty minutes
- in 74 playoff games, Orr had 92 points and 92 PIMs
- Orr had 11 major knee surgeries during his career

Bobby Orr (and maybe the Rocket) are the only players I regret not being able to see play live.


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