Penguins Notebook: Coffey joins Penguins' Hall of Fame

Induction of former offensive defenseman set for Nov. 15 at Arena

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DENVER -- Paul Coffey used to squeeze his feet into skates two sizes too small with laces pulled so tight it was easier to just cut them after games.

It was those fleet feet and a set of soft hands that helped make him one of the best offensive defensemen in the history of the NHL.


Tomorrow
  • Game: Penguins vs. Islanders, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.
  • TV: FSN Pittsburgh.

Coffey spent five of his 21 seasons with the Penguins and was an integral part of their Stanley Cup championship teams in 1991 and '92. The Penguins will enshrine Coffey in their team Hall of Fame before a home game Nov. 15 against the New York Islanders, the team announced yesterday before its game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

Locker room assistant Frank Sciulli, who worked for the club from its inception in 1967 until he died this past summer, will be inducted in the builder's category.

Coffey, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, had 108 goals and 440 points in 331 games with the team between 1987-92 and is the only Penguins defenseman to rank in the top 10 in points all time. He also had 26 points in 22 Penguins playoff games. No other defenseman in club history has topped 100 points, something he did twice.

He holds the Penguins' season records for defenseman in goals (30), assists (83), points (113), shots (342), power-play assists (53) and power-play points (64).

Coffey had three Stanley Cup rings as part of the high-flying Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s and already was a star when he was traded to the Penguins Nov. 24, 1987, along with Dave Hunter and Wayne Van Dorp for Craig Simpson, Dave Hannan, Moe Mantha and Chris Joseph. He changed his uniform number from 7 to 77, but his game did not change.

He's second all time among NHL defensemen behind Raymond Bourque in goals (396), assists (1,135) and points (1,531).

After the Penguins, Coffey played with Los Angeles, Detroit, Hartford, Philadelphia, Chicago, Carolina and Boston.

The other players in the Penguins Hall are Mario Lemieux, Rick Kehoe, Jean Pronovost, Syl Apps, Dave Burrows, Joe Mullen, Les Binkley and Ulf Samuelsson.

Sciulli, who also worked for the Steelers, joins owner Edward J. DeBartolo, broadcaster Mike Lange, organist Vince Lascheid, longtime locker room assistant A.T. Caggiano and longtime executive assistant Elaine Heufelder in the builder's category.

Additional off-ice personnel in the Hall are general managers Craig Patrick and Jack Riley and coach Bob Johnson.

Rare game with Avalanche

The Penguins game jumped off the Avalanche's schedule page.

That's partly because Colorado otherwise is in the middle of a stretch of nine games against Northwest Division teams, four before and five after. And partly because it's the Penguins and their dynamic young team led by captain and defending league scoring champion Sidney Crosby. The Penguins play in Denver once every three years, and this was Crosby's first game here.

"It's a team we don't see much," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're excited to see Sidney and some of the best young players in the game. I think everybody around town has been targeting this game as a special night.

"Playing nine in your own division is a tough task in its own right, but this is a real challenge."

Slap shots

Winger Jarkko Ruutu was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Minnesota. Center Erik Christensen, winger Georges Laraque (groin) and defenseman Alain Nasreddine were scratched.


Shelly Anderson can be reached at sanderson@post-gazette.com .


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