14

Top 100 Oilers: Charlie Huddy (13)

You could have a good debate if you asked a room full of hockey fans to name the best-ever defense pairings in the NHL. Whether you’re old school and think it might be Larry Robinson and Serge Savard or younger and Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis get your vote, chances are you’d also have the Edmonton Oilers’ duo of Paul Coffey and Charlie Huddy in the conversation.

In the case of Coffey and Huddy, it was the former who scored most of the points and grabbed most of the headlines and accolades while gliding effortlessly up the ice past opponents left grasping at air. Coffey was the dynamic half of the duo. The game-breaker and difference-maker. Huddy? He was the quiet one, the guy who made all the flash and dash possible by making sure there was somebody home while his partner was up the ice doing his thing. Huddy was as good as any Oiler has ever been at not being noticed.

Charlie Huddy

Defense — shoots L
Born Jun 2 1959 — Oshawa, ONT
Height 6.00 — Weight 200 [183 cm/91 kg]

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1980-81

21

EDM

12

2

5

7

1

6

23

8.7

1981-82

22

EDM

41

4

11

15

17

46

84

4.8

1982-83

23

EDM

76

20

37

57

62

58

151

13.2

1983-84

24

EDM

75

8

34

42

50

43

161

5.0

1984-85

25

EDM

80

7

44

51

50

46

146

4.8

1985-86

26

EDM

76

6

35

41

30

55

151

4.0

1986-87

27

EDM

58

4

15

19

27

35

75

5.3

1987-88

28

EDM

77

13

28

41

23

71

163

8.0

1988-89

29

EDM

76

11

33

44

0

52

178

6.2

1989-90

30

EDM

70

1

23

24

-13

56

119

0.8

1990-91

31

EDM

53

5

22

27

4

32

90

5.6

1991-92

32

LAK

56

4

19

23

-10

43

109

3.7

1992-93

33

LAK

82

2

25

27

16

64

106

1.9

1993-94

34

LAK

79

5

13

18

4

71

134

3.7

1994-95

35

TOT

41

2

5

7

-7

42

51

3.9

1994-95

35

LAK

9

0

1

1

-6

6

11

0.0

1994-95

35

BUF

32

2

4

6

-1

36

40

5.0

1995-96

36

TOT

64

5

5

10

-12

65

70

7.1

1995-96

36

BUF

52

5

5

10

-5

59

57

8.8

1995-96

36

STL

12

0

0

0

-7

6

13

0.0

1996-97

37

BUF

1

0

0

0

-1

0

0

11 yrs EDM

694

81

287

368

251

500

1341

6.0

4 yrs LAK

226

11

58

69

4

184

360

3.1

3 yrs BUF

85

7

9

16

-7

95

97

7.2

1 yr STL

12

0

0

0

-7

6

13

0.0

Career

1017

99

354

453

241

785

1811

5.5

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1981-82

22

EDM

5

1

2

3

14

1982-83

23

EDM

15

1

6

7

10

1983-84

24

EDM

12

1

9

10

18

8

35

2.9

1984-85

25

EDM

18

3

17

20

20

17

50

6.0

1985-86

26

EDM

7

0

2

2

3

0

5

0.0

1986-87

27

EDM

21

1

7

8

12

21

34

2.9

1987-88

28

EDM

13

4

5

9

2

10

33

12.1

1988-89

29

EDM

7

2

0

2

-2

4

17

11.8

1989-90

30

EDM

22

0

6

6

11

11

35

0.0

1990-91

31

EDM

18

3

7

10

9

10

35

8.6

1991-92

32

LAK

6

1

1

2

-2

10

12

8.3

1992-93

33

LAK

23

1

4

5

9

12

26

3.8

1994-95

35

BUF

3

0

0

0

1

0

5

0.0

1995-96

36

STL

13

1

0

1

1

8

14

7.1

Career

183

19

66

85

82

135

301

5.6

NOTABLE

When I think of Coffey and Huddy – hold on, I’m going really old school here – I think of Bobby Orr and Dallas Smith. Who the hell was Dallas Smith? Well, like Huddy, he was the quiet guy who stayed home while Orr revolutionized the way the game was played from the back end with the Boston Bruins. Like Huddy, he was the perfect complement to his more fleet-footed, famous and sensational partner. Call it understated excellence.

While Coffey, a two-time Norris Trophy winner with the Oilers, was taking a run at Orr’s records – his 48 goals eclipsed Orr’s 46 and his 138 points in a season is second only to Orr’s 139 – Huddy made his money by being the stay-at-home guy, the steady-as-she-goes guy while the wild one was out tearing it up. It was Huddy, no slouch with 40-or-more points six times as an Oiler, who tailored his game to help make the tandem as good as it was.

Huddy wasn’t a physical player. He defended with his brain and played a positional game. He could move the puck. He worked the point on the power play with Coffey. He was smart enough to play off what Coffey did, to be in the right spots, to hang back when it was needed – which was often – and jump up when warranted. It can be difficult to play with a player as talented as Coffey, which seems odd but is something we’ve seen many times, and Huddy was a master at it.

THE STORY

In 1982-83, Huddy won the NHL’s first Plus/Minus Award with a ridiculous plus-62. In 694 games with the Oilers, he was plus-251. Yes, it’s a flawed stat that rightfully carries less weight now than it once did, especially when you’re playing with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson and Coffey, but that said, there’s no question Huddy made a career out of being in the right place at the right time.

Huddy, who was never drafted and signed with the Oilers as a free agent, sits third in franchise record books in scoring for D-men with 368 regular season points behind only Coffey (669) and Kevin Lowe (383). His 77 playoff points leaves him behind only Coffey (103). Huddy’s playoff plus-85 puts him atop franchise blueliners ahead of Coffey (plus-69).

More important than some impressive numbers, Huddy won five Stanley Cup rings with the Oilers, making the Oshawa native one of just seven players to accomplish that feat. For my money, Huddy was, quietly and without a lot of fanfare, one of the four most significant D-men ever to wear Edmonton silks. He was the epitome of understanding a role and exceling in it.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.

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