Coffey Tracer

This is Jim Crosson, who was a pretty good prospect in the summer of 1980. He was not drafted but quickly signed a nice entry level deal (including a better signing bonus than he would have received as a later round pick) and went to camp with the Oilers in the fall of that year.

Crosson was a tough WHL defender (256pims) with some offensive ability (69gp, 16-60-76) on a very good Calgary Wrangler team (they finished second in their division, third in the league in goals for. Kelly Kisio was on that team).

Crosson came to the Oilers 1980 camp and impressed enough to hang around deeper into camp than was expected of an unsigned junior grad. He hung around long enough to get a mention from Peter Gzowski in that wonderful book about that young Oiler team (The Game of Our Lives) and he played some pre-season games with the big club before being reassigned to Wichita (CHL) and then Milwuakee (the jersey in photo is the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL).

Crosson told me a story years ago about playing on the same D pairing with Paul Coffey in one of those games. Coffey was the first round phenom and it was obvious from the word go he had tremendous talent but he also had some holes in his game.

Anyway, Crosson felt he had a pretty good camp going and dreamed of making the big club until one particular play. Coffey carried the puck into the opposition zone, deep in the corner and then behind the net. A quick scrum ensued, puck is turned over and in one of those quick transitions it’s jailbreak the other way.

Crosson knew Coffey was dead in the water and the play turned over so quickly he turned, took three strong strides to get some clearance and then turned around to face the (he assumed) 3-on-1.

Except Paul Coffey was there, beside him. And that, in his words, was the day he knew what Paul Coffey was in the game of hockey.

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4 Responses to "Coffey Tracer"

  1. Daniel says:

    Heh, cool…

  2. IceDragoon says:

    Coffey was a beauty, alright.
    He didn’t have Orr’s head for the game, but he had Gretzky & co and a very smart, stay-at-home, D-partner.

    Funny how, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I recall many complaining about his defensive shortcomings. :-D

    ummm… Lain?
    If you’re seeing tracers, perhaps someone is spiking your coffee.

  3. Ribs says:

    Coffey rocks. My ultimate favourite Oiler of all time.

    Every time he touched the puck he was a threat. And he touched it a lot.

  4. The Forechecker says:

    Great post. One of my favorite Coffey plays came when he was with the Red Wings. He got tangled up along the right-side boards just inside the opponent’s blue line, and had to drop his broken stick as the other team started a rush up ice on the opposite side of the rink.

    As the streaking RW headed through the neutral zone, Coffey took about 3 or 4 backwards strides and not only kept pace with the oncoming attack, but crossed the ice laterally and delivered a check to the puck carrier, allowing his partner to scoop up the puck and send the play back the other way.

    It was a jaw-dropping display of skating ability…

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