Defencemen that played forward? (who, when and how much, and some Coffey)

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by plusandminus, Jul 21, 2011.

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  1. plusandminus

    plusandminus Registered User

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    I would appreciate help with this.

    1. When and how much did Paul Coffey play forward?

    2. Other defencemen playing forward?

    Paul Coffey really scored lots of points in the early 80s. I remember he sometimes played forward (wing? usually same shifts as Gretzky?).
    I know Coffey is praised for his offensive skills, and not so much about his defence. But a spontanous idea that popped up is this... How about looking the other way around. If he was a forward, he was among the very top in scoring, but he also was great enough defensively to play as a defender. ??
    That is, he was a defenseman good enough offensively to be used as a forward. But he also was good enough defensively - after all - to be mainly used as a defenceman.
    (I'm getting a bit dizzy, but I hope you understand my thoughts. I know I simplify, but still, anyway, you are welcome to give feedback.)
     
  2. This might be the first I've heard of Coffey playing wing at all with Gretzky. Doesn't seem like it would have been a bad idea though. To be honest, I agree with everything you're saying which is why I think Coffey is underrated among most top defenseman lists I see. Like I said in another thread, his defense was not bad enough that his huge offensive edge over every other defenseman (besides Orr) could possibly leave him out of the top 10 all time. I truly believe Coffey was the best player in the 80's besides Gretzky and Lemieux.

    Really this analysis fits perfectly with what I see when I watch games, Coffey looks like he's just skating on different ice than everyone, even his stickhandling seems to be quite noticeably better than anyone's during his time, except for Savard/Lemieux.
    I honestly don't see how he was that bad defensively based on games that I've watched, or how it would matter as much as it does considering the era and team he played for.
     
  3. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Please Clarify

    Pre 1967 expansion there were swingmen who could play a couple of forward positions and defense. They were valuable because they took up one roster spot but in case of injury could fill multiple roles. Are you interested in such players?



    What about forwards that played defense at times?
     
  4. plusandminus

    plusandminus Registered User

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    I think I have to start with 1968 onwards, especially from like 1975.

    I'm not uninterested in the things you mention, so you are welcome to write about them if you want to. But mostly, I'm interested in when Coffey played forward, and if other players back then (and later or slightly before) did so too.
    (This thread is, by the way, not connected to my "Determining the..." thread.)
    I appreciate having you around here, as you obviously seem to have been following NHL for a long time.
     
  5. mbhhofr

    mbhhofr Registered User

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  6. MarkusNaslund19

    MarkusNaslund19 Registered User

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    I believe that Phil Housley in his days as a Sabre, especially in his rookie season, played quite a bit of forward.
     
  7. JT Dutch*

    JT Dutch* Guest

    ... Wasn't Mark Howe a forward before he was a defenseman? Playing on a line with his dad and brother in the old WHA?

    And, as I recall, he played some forward for Detroit and for Philadelphia.
     
  8. lextune

    lextune I'm too old for this.

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    Not at all. Or so little that it is negligible.

    He was one of the greatest first-pass defensemen in league history. And a puck rusher second only to Orr. There was no reason in the world to play him as a forward. So they didn't.
     
  9. SealsFan

    SealsFan Registered User

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    Rick Hampton - California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons/LA Kings

    He was never known as an enforcer but there's a video on Youtube of him going toe-to-toe with Terry O'Reilly in the Garden and he gets his share of shots in.
     
  10. plusandminus

    plusandminus Registered User

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    (On how much Paul Coffey played forward.)

    Are you sure? I've heard it several times, both in the 80s and later on, that he used to play as a forward. And it was said he did it during at least a fairly long period (or periods, and I'm not meaning hockey periods).
     
  11. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    I don't remember Coffey being used at forward at all as an Oiler.

    I could be wrong but what lextune says is correct.

    Coffey is probably the best long passer in the history of the game and right up there with Orr as far as rushing, so playing from the blueline suited his abilities best.

    I know Bowman tried him at forward in Detroit as an experiment. I think he played center though.
     
  12. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    Yes, Mark Howe played forward and defense.
     
  13. Tarmore

    Tarmore Registered User

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    All-star at both positions no?

    Wendle Clark drafted as a D-man, Gary Leeman too I believe.

    Ian White played a dozen or so games at forward just a few seasons ago.

    Chara sees the occasional shift on the PP no?
     
  14. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    I honestly wonder if it's people looking at his scoring stats and figuring he must have played some forward.
     
  15. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    In a sense, Sergei Fedorov... even though he was a forward who was sometimes used as a defenseman. But it's pretty much the same thing.

    More recently, Matt Hunwick was used that way in Boston before they traded him. Zdeno Chara has also been playing forward on the PP in recent years.
     
  16. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    Ron Greschner played centre at various points in his career, including part of the 1977-78 season, the 1985 playoffs, and most of the 1985-86 season.
     
  17. plusandminus

    plusandminus Registered User

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    OK, I dared to ask in the Oilers forum too, and it seems the guys there don't remember Coffey playing forward.
    http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=955797

    I have read though, and probably heard too, that he did play forward (on a line). But it might be some myth, like Gretzky getting significant amounts of phantom assists, the league had an unofficial agreement of not checking Gretzky too hard, etc.
     
  18. Uncle Rotter

    Uncle Rotter Registered User

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    Doug Mohns, Jimmy Roberts
     
  19. shazariahl

    shazariahl Registered User

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    I was going to say the same thing. Growing up in Edmonton in the 80's, I had the opportunity to watch many of their games both live and on local TV which only carried the games because it was Edmonton (back before we had national coverage of everything incl. what they had for breakfast). I don't remember EVER seeing Coffey play forward.

    And as others have mentioned, he is probably the best long-passer in history and 2nd best rushing Dman of all time. He was best suited doing what he did best - long break out passes to an agressive Edmonton offense.
     
  20. jumptheshark

    jumptheshark Rebooting myself Sponsor

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    I was alive and well and kicking in the 80s in edmonton and saw nearly every game. Coffey never played fw with the oilers
     
  21. KingGallagherXI

    KingGallagherXI Registered User

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    Mark Streit
     
  22. bassassin

    bassassin Registered User

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    It doesnt seem too uncommon to have a dman in front of the net on the PP, Tampa used Brett Clark quite a bit on their PP in front of the net.
     
  23. JaymzB

    JaymzB Registered User

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    Over the past few seasons in Montreal:

    Mark Streit
    Yanick Weber
    MA Bergeron
    Mike Komisarek (for at least 1 game)
    Mathieu Dandenault (played some Forward in Detroit as well)
     
  24. lextune

    lextune I'm too old for this.

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    Yes.

    People say all sorts of goofy stuff.
     
  25. Darrelle Lundqvist

    Darrelle Lundqvist Swagelin

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    Matt Gilroy was used at forward a couple times last year for the Rangers. Brian Boyle played some d in college as well.
     

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