The final coaching vacancy has been filled, as the Buffalo Sabres named Hall of Fame defenseman, Phil Housley their bench boss on Thursday.
The past four seasons, Housley spent as an assistant coach on Peter Laviolette’s, Nashville Predators staff. Before arriving in the Music City, Housley spent nine seasons developing Stillwater High School in Minnesota. He also led Team USA to the gold medal at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
Housley succeeds Dan Bylsma behind the bench in Buffalo. Bylsma, along with general manager, Tim Murray, were relieved of their duties on April 20. Housley will become the 18th head coach in the 47-year history of the Sabres.
Sabres general manager, Jason Botterill said, “Based on his experience as a player and a coach, we think Phil is uniquely qualified to be our head coach and to help us achieve our organizational goals. His approach to the game aligns with the way we envision our hockey team playing and we are excited to see where his leadership will take us in the future.”
The Sabres selected Housley with the number six pick in the 1982 National Hockey League Entry Draft. In 21 seasons, protecting the blueline and quarterbacking the powerplay with the Sabres, Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs, he put up 338 goals and 894 assists.
Those 1,232 points ranks him third among American born players and fourth amongst NHL defensemen. The 2015 Hockey Hall of Famer is also in the Sabres Hall of Fame, United States Hockey of Fame and IIHF Hall of Fame.
The four seasons he spent in Nashville, he helped guide the Predators to one top defensive teams in three of those years. The team was also one of the top two teams in goals by defensemen under his tutelage.
Nashville defenseman, P.K. Subban added, “He brings such a different element to coaching because of the player that he was; he sees the game unlike probably anyone who has ever played the game. When he talks, all that matters to me is what is coming out of his mouth.”
Housley hopes that the Sabres defense will be pretty similar to the Predators style and attack like they did during his tenure there. He said, “I think the brand of hockey is playing with pace, playing fast, and that includes a five-man attack. Our defense is going to be very involved in the play.”
He continued, “We have to play good defense obviously, but I think if we can get five guys up into the play, whether it is on a breakout through the neutral zone or in the offensive zone, I think it gets the odds in your favor. It is going to be fast.”