During twenty-one NHL seasons, played with nine different teams, Paul Coffey established himself as one of the premier defensemen in hockey's glorious history. In 1998, even before his retirement and the magnitude of his prowess had fully sunk in, The Hockey News named Coffey the twenty-eighth greatest NHL player of all time. But with four Stanley Cup championships, three Norris Trophies, eight selections to an NHL All-Star Team and international success, including being named to the Canada Cup All-Star Team in 1984, Coffey has a multitude of highlights from which to choose as the pinnacle of an extraordinary career.
"It's so hard to pick a highlight," he shrugged. "Obviously, at the end of my career, being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame was a huge honour." Coffey was elected as an Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004. "And then, the Oilers retired my jersey in Edmonton. That is the biggest topping you can ever put on anything. That was a proud moment for myself and my family." On October 18, 2005, during a ceremony at the Rexall Centre in Edmonton, where Paul spent so many brilliant seasons at the beginning of his career, the Oilers raised his number 7 to the rafters, signifying that no Oiler will ever again wear Coffey's number. "But early on, just the chance to put on that Edmonton Oiler jersey. Being drafted, being given a chance to play. That's one of the things you dream about. The awards are always fun but it's not something you can really do by yourself. You need the help of your teammates. The thing that is most important to me was the team stuff -- that first Stanley Cup."
Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Editor of Publications and Online Features.