Sabres hire Phil Housley as head coach

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - The Buffalo Sabres have hired Phil Housley as its new head coach.

Housley joins the Sabres after helping guide the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history.

The Hockey Hall of Famer and former Sabres defenseman becomes the seventh alumnus to serve as the team’s head coach.

In his press conference today, Housley emphasized how excited he is to become the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. "It's amazing when you look at this roster just how many pieces there are" said Housley. 

"I don't think people realize how pumped I am, coming back to Buffalo. The people of Buffalo are very passionate about their team," said Housley. " I don't think it's really sunk in."

Housley emphasized that the key to creating a winning team is to build a good culture. 

"I think it's about creating those relationships," said Housley. "You have to know where they stand and you have to know where you stand. It's about creating a culture."

When asked how he would best describe himself personally, Housley said that he is "intense, patient, competitive, willing to win, respectful, and credible."

Housley began his coaching career in 2004 as head coach of Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota. 

He also coached as an assistant for USA hockey during six international tournaments and was the head coach in 2013 as he guided Team USA to a gold medal in the IIHF World Junior Championship.

Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill said that one of the most appealing aspects of Housley was his track record in developing players. Botterill cited his work as a high school coach and his time with USA Hockey. 

"Based on his experience as a player and coach, we think Phil is uniquely qualified to be our head coach and to help us achieve our organizational goals," said Botterill. "His approach to the game aligns with the way we envision our hockey team playing and we're excited to see where his leadership will take us in the future."

Housley was named an assistant coach for Nashville in 2013, his first role as an NHL coach. He has worked primarily with the defense. 

During his four season in Nashville, the Predators finished in the top two for goals scored by defensemen every year. 

Housley said that his brand of hockey is with an attacking mindset. "The people who come to the games are going to like the product," said Housley. "I think the guys on the ice will like the type of hockey we'll play. We want to play with speed and play with pace."

Housley also said that the defense will play a big part in the offensive strategy. "They're going to be heavily involved in the attack. We want our defense in the play."

As for how to develop that system? Housley says it starts in training camp.

"Our practices are going to be very high tempo. That's where you learn the skill and the development in those practices," said Housley. "Then the games become a little easier."

Housley's impressive coaching resume is matched by his Hall of Fame career as a player. 

Housley was drafted with the sixth overall pick in the 1982 NHL Draft by the Sabres.

Housley played with the Sabres for eight seasons. He amassed 178 goals and 380 assists for the Sabres during his tenure. Housley ranks fourth among all Sabres in assists and fifth in points. 

After leaving the Sabres in 1990, Housley went on to play for seven more teams before retiring in 2003.

Botterill said also noted that while the two crossed paths in Calgary for a brief period of time, they haven't previously had a close relationship. "Theres been a respect level from a far at what he's been able to accomplish," said Botterill. "We will have to continue to improve our relationship. It seemed like a good fit."

He finished his career with 1,232 points (338-894), second all-time among U.S. born players.

Housley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015. He is also a member of the Buffalo Sabres and USA Hockey Halls of Fame. 


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