Letang finished with 10 attempted shots as well,
and was clearly making an asserted effort to put the
puck on the net. Perhaps it was the friendly reminder
in the morning that inspired his performance.
“It’s fun for a guy like me to get a different
opinion, different eyes,” Letang said. “A guy with
that much experience to tell me different things.
Sometimes you question yourself and aren’t playing
the way you want. He talks to you. He gets you on
the right path. It’s fun to have a Hall of Famer look
out for you.”
Paul Coffey’s son, Blake, is attending Hobart and
William Smith Colleges in upstate New York. Coffey’s
progeny also plays hockey for his collegiate team,
and chose his father’s position of defense. But when
it came time to select a jersey number…
“He picked 58,” Coffey laughed.
In some sense it is only fitting. The dynamic
between Coffey and Letang is that of the father-son
relationship, Coffey offering fatherly advice and
basking in the success of the younger Letang.
And the similarities between the two men are
remarkable. Both are offensive defensemen that
are highly skilled, can make plays and blessed with
speed and skating prowess.
Both players would have a profound impact on
the Penguins organization. Each arrived with the
team in the midst of consecutive years of missing
the playoffs and helped lead the team, along with a
talented and worldly cast of teammates, to Stanley
“Our styles, our play, the guys we’ve played with
are somewhat parallel,” Coffey said. “A guy like Kris
can play in any era because he can skate. I could
play in any era because I could skate.”
“There’s nobody that skates like him,” Letang
humbly noted. “Obviously, Paul was an idol of mine.
Watching him skate was the ultimate thing.”
Coffey’s skating was arguably his biggest
strength. In the mold of Bobby Orr, Coffey could glide
effortlessly on the ice, and doing so in skates that
were three sizes too small for his feet.
But the defensive position began to evolve as
Coffey’s career entered the twilight in the end of
the 90s. Teams opted away from the quick skating
blueliners and stockpiled the big, lumbering,
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