Hall of Famer Paul Coffey in hot water after “discriminatory slur”

Ken Campbell
Paul Coffey

The one thing we do know is that Hall of Famer and five-time Stanley Cup champion Paul Coffey was recently suspended for three games by the Greater Toronto Hockey League for a new Hockey Canada rule governing “discriminatory slurs.” Much of the rest of the story is shrouded in mystery, since all the parties involved have closed ranks and no one is speaking about it.

What thn.com can confirm is Coffey, who coaches the Toronto Marlboros midget ‘AAA’ team, was involved in an altercation last Friday during a playoff game against the Mississauga Senators.
The suspension came as a result of a verbal confrontation with the Senators coach in the last minutes of a 5-2 win for the Marlboros. Coffey, according to the game sheet, was originally assessed a gross misconduct penalty for a discriminatory slur, which carries with it an indefinite suspension. After an investigation by the GTHL, Coffey was handed a three-game suspension. Coffey was not behind the bench for his team Tuesday night, which was the fourth game of his team’s league semifinal playoff series. (The series is tied 4-4 in points, with the first team to eight winning the series.)

GTHL executive director Scott Oakman would not even confirm that Coffey was suspended, saying only the Marlies had been informed of the league’s decision. Oakman said the GTHL does not make public its suspensions and saw no reason to deviate from that policy in this case.

For their part, neither the Marlies nor Coffey was willing to comment. But thn.com has learned an official from the opposing Senators team lobbied the GTHL to be lenient on Coffey, saying the situation was being blown out of proportion.

The penalty was assessed under a new rule adopted by Hockey Canada for this season that deals with discriminatory slurs. Rule 9.2(f) states: “Any player or team official who engages in verbal taunts, insults or intimidation based on discriminatory grounds (race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language) shall be assessed a gross misconduct penalty and the referee shall report full details of the incident to the president (of the league).”

Coffey, whose son, Blake, plays defense for the Marlboros, is also an assistant coach with the Marlboros minor peewee ‘AAA’ team. It’s been speculated Coffey will be coaching the Pickering Panthers Jr. A team next season, where it’s likely his son, who is eligible for this year’s OHL draft, will play.

Coffey retired in 2001 at No. 2 on the list of all-time scorers among defensemen and was also second all-time in points per game. He won three Norris Trophies and had five seasons of 100 points or more.