Paul Coffey retired from the NHL in 2001 as one of hockey's greatest offensive defensemen, and while he's no longer playing the game, he does find himself on the defensive after saying something offensive.
Coffey, who coaches the Toronto Marlboros midget AAA team, was recently suspended for three games by the Greater Toronto Hockey League for some sort of discriminatory slur.
No one's saying anything, but Coffey clearly said something. And whatever he said is now a suspendable offense, thanks to a new Hockey Canada rule that targets “any player or team official who engages in verbal taunts, insults or intimidation based on discriminatory grounds (race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language)".
The incident happened Friday, during a playoff game between the Marlboros and 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.
I'm sure it doesn't hurt that he's Paul Coffey and there's a legacy to protect here. Either way, smarten up, Paul.
THN also reports that an official from the Senators team lobbied the league to go easy on Coffey, claiming the situation was "being blown out of proportion." One assumes he wasn't the guy on the wrong end of a discriminatory slur.