The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has hired Phil Housley as the 18th head coach in franchise history. The Hockey Hall of Famer and former Sabres defenseman becomes the seventh alumnus to serve as the team’s head coach.
Housley joins the Sabres after helping to guide the Nashville Predators to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history. Named an assistant coach on May 22, 2013, Housley was a driving force behind one of the NHL’s best defensive groups throughout his tenure.
“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 Sabres General Manager Jason 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.”
During his four seasons in Nashville, the Predators ranked in the top two in the league in goals by defensemen every season and finished in the top half in fewest goals allowed in each of the last three seasons. Under his tutelage, Nashville had at least one player finish in the top five in voting for the James Norris Memorial Trophy every season from 2013-14 to 2015-16. The award is given annually to the league’s best defenseman.
A native of South St. Paul, Minnesota, Housley began his coaching career in 2004 as head coach of Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota. During his nine seasons at the helm, Housley turned around the school’s program while also accepting numerous opportunities to coach for Team USA at the international level.
Throughout his time with USA Hockey, Housley has served as an assistant coach at two IIHF World Junior Championships and three IIHF World Championships. Most notably, he served as the head coach when Team USA won the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship. He was also an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Drafted by the Sabres in the first round (6th overall) of the 1982 NHL Draft, Housley went on to play 21 seasons in the NHL. His 1,232 career points (338+894) rank third among American players and fourth among defensemen all-time. He is also the Sabres’ career and individual-season leader in goals, assists and points by a defenseman. Each of his eight seasons in Buffalo rank among the top 10 single-season point totals by a Sabres defensemen.
Internationally, Housley was a part of Team USA’s gold medal team at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, as well as the American squad that took home silver at the 2002 Winter Olympics. He also represented the United States at six IIHF World Championships, one IIHF World Junior Championship and two Canada Cups.
A member of the Buffalo Sabres, USA Hockey and IIHF Halls of Fame, Housley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015. During his career, he played in seven All-Star Games and was named to the First All-Rookie Team in 1983.