By Jourdon LaBarber for Sabres.com
Peruse the record books for the Buffalo Sabres, and you'll find the name Phil Housley atop nearly every offensive statistic for defensemen. It's a testament to the eight Hall of Fame seasons he spent in Buffalo after being selected out of South St. Paul high school with the No. 6 pick in the 1982 Draft.
From here on out, that name will show up in another spot: as the 18th coach in franchise history.
Housley, an assistant coach in Nashville for the past four seasons, was officially hired to coach the Sabres on Thursday.
That defense that propelled Nashville to the Stanley Cup Final? He coached it.
Housley has worked with the Predators' defensive corps in his four years as an assistant on the Nashville bench, and it paid dividends when that group helped carry the team in its memorable run to a Western Conference championship over the past two months.
P.K. Subban, a former Norris Trophy winner who just finished his first season with the Predators, raved about Housley to NHL.com last month.
"He brings such a different element to coaching because of the player he was; he sees the game unlike probably anyone else who's ever played the game," Subban said. "When he talks, all that matters to me is what is coming out of his mouth."
Ryan Ellis, who's been with Nashville for the entirety of Housley's tenure, spoke highly of his communication abilities.
"Phil has been awesome,"he told Yahoo! Sports."Since 'Day One' he came in here, I think for a lot of the D he was a similar player as the way he thought the game and I guess thought the game should be played. Just the little things talking with him day-in-day-out the knowledge that he brings … Obviously his numbers, his games played, his points all that stuff speak for themselves so it's easy to listen to a guy like that and take what he has to say and understand it and learn from it."
He's coached on the international stage, too
Housley made a habit of representing Team USA during his playing career, and he's continued that habit as a coach. He was twice an assistant coach for the World Junior team before finally serving as head coach in 2013, when he won gold with a squad that included Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe.
Most recently, Housley served as an assistant for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey last September.
He's in the Sabres Hall of Fame - and the Hockey Hall of Fame
Housley is the Sabres' franchise leader in nearly all offensive categories for a defenseman, including (deep breath) career hat tricks (2), single-season goals (31 in 1983-84), single-season assists (60 in 1989-90), single-season points (81 in 1989-90), career goals (156), career assists (334), and career points (490). He also holds the franchise record for assists by a rookie (47 in 1982-83).
In total, Housley played 1,495 games for eight teams, scoring 338 goals and 894 assists for 1,232 points.
That career earned him an induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.
- Before he began coaching Nashville, Housley spent nine seasons as the head coach at Stillwater Area High School near his hometown of St. Paul, Minn.
- Housley's 1,232 points ranks second amongst American-born scorers in NHL history. He trails Mike Modano, who holds the record with 1,374.