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Mario Ferraro Still Getting Tips from Paul Coffey



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Every NHL player has mentors as a kid.

Few have had a mentor like the San Jose Sharks’ Mario Ferraro.

The Sharks defenseman grew up playing minor hockey with the Toronto Marlboros, which allowed him to be coached by Paul Coffey when he was nine or 10 years old. Coffey, who is widely regarded as one of the best to ever play the game, is a three-time Norris Trophy winner, and sits second all-time in scoring by a defenseman with an incredible 1,531 points.

In the greater Toronto area, it’s probably not too hard to get coached by a former NHL’er at some point. But even in that hockey hotbed, not everybody gets coached by a Hockey Hall of Famer.

Coffey, who now works for the Oilers, a team in which he played a large chunk of his career with, was in attendance when his team took on the San Jose Sharks back on Jan. 13. Prior to puck drop, Ferraro was able to catch up with his old mentor, and was clearly thrilled to see him.

This is actually the first time that the 24-year-old has seen Coffey since he was a teenager.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” Ferraro said, regarding his close relationship with Coffey. “He was my assistant coach at first, when I played with the Toronto [Marlboros]. Then, he became the head coach for at least two or three years. So yeah, he was my coach in minor hockey, so I’ve become pretty close with him. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, so we hadn’t spoken in a while.

“I was actually very happy and excited that he took the time to come by and ask to speak to me before the game. It just shows the type of person that he is. He’s obviously a hockey legend, one of the best defensemen to play the game.”

As you can imagine, Ferraro said Coffey helped him out a ton when it came to improving his game as a kid, which included a number of tips he still keeps in mind to this day. Despite being one of the most creative players on the back-end in the history of the game, however, some of his best advice was to try and simplify things when out on the ice.

“He actually sent me a message just after that [Oilers] game and just said one of the biggest [things] for a defenseman is just to not try and do too much, just let the game come to me. He’s always emphasized that even when we were younger. You don’t want to try and overcomplicate things, and that’s something I get into a habit of too. I try to do too much sometimes, try to make an impact too much,” Ferraro shared. “You’re looking at one of the guys who has over 1,000 points in the NHL, so he knows his offense, especially, but even then he’s still saying just let the game come to you. So, just being simple and not trying to do too much. That actually goes a long way because then you focus on the little things and eventually the opportunities will come.”

While it was a great moment for Ferraro to be able to see his old mentor, the night itself wasn’t one to remember, as he and his teammates fell to the Oilers 7-1. The 2022-23 season has certainly been one of frustration for the San Jose Sharks, and the same can be said for the young blueliner himself, as he’s tied for a team-worst -22 rating on the year.

That said, the future is still quite bright for Ferraro, and with Hall of Fame mentors like Coffey in his corner, there is plenty of reason to expect him to continue improving in the coming years.

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