In a natural follow-up to yesterday's news about Peter Horachek being fired, the Nashville Predators have hired a new assistant coach in Phil Housley, one of the top offensive defensemen in NHL history.
Considering the number of young blueliners in the Predators system with major scoring potential (Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, etc.), it can be hoped that Housley's influence will continue Nashville's strong tradition of driving the attack with an active defense.
It does have to be said, however, that Housley is unproven as a coach at the NHL level. There are any number of amazingly talented players who haven't panned out behind the bench. It will be interesting to see what kind of fresh ideas his background can bring to the team, though.
The following (lengthy) release comes from the Preds:
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that Phil Housley has been named assistant coach of the team. Housley coached the United States to a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championships and ranks fourth all-time among NHL defensemen in points (338g-894a-1,232pts).
"Phil brings a unique skill set to our coaching staff," Poile said. "He was one of the most talented offensive defensemen to play in the NHL, and he has worked extensively with young players during his coaching career. He will continue to focus his efforts on our young defensemen and assisting on the power play."
Housley, 49 (3/9/64), has spent the last nine seasons in the coaching ranks, most recently serving as an assistant for Team USA at the 2013 World Championships that took home the bronze medal, the nation's first medal at the tournament in nine years. He was also behind the bench for the U.S. National Team at the 2011 World Championships. In addition to leading the United States' to its second world junior title in four years in January, Housley was an assistant coach at the tournament in both 2007 and 2011, helping each team claim the bronze medal. He was also one of two head coaches for the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in September 2012.
"A coach with history as a defenseman who was offensively gifted and excelled on the power play is something we have never had on our coaching staff," Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "His insight and viewpoint will bring a fresh perspective to our team."
A native of South St. Paul, Minn., Housley was a seven-time NHL All-Star in a career that spanned 21 seasons (1982-2003) with eight teams (Buffalo, Winnipeg, St. Louis, Calgary, New Jersey, Washington, Chicago and Toronto). In addition to having posted the most points by an American defenseman in NHL history, he played the sixth-most games among all League blueliners (1,495). A first-round pick (sixth overall) by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.
A seven-time member of the U.S. National Team (1982, 1986, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003), Housley earned a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and helped Team USA capture the 1996 World Cup of Hockey title. He was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in May 2012, and received USA Hockey's Bob Johnson Award in 2000 for excellence in international competition.
Phil Housley at a glance:
- Head coach of the gold-medal winning U.S. team at the 2013 World Junior Championships. Also helped Team USA to bronze medals at the tournament in 2007 and 2011.
- An assistant coach for the U.S. Men's National Team at the 2013 World Championships, helping the team claim the bronze medal, the nation's first medal at the tournament since 2004. Also served as an assistant at the 2011 World Championships.
- Ranks fourth all-time among NHL defensemen in points (338g-894a-1,232pts), and sixth in games played (1,495). He ranks first among American-born blueliners in points, and second in games played.
- Inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004 and the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2012. Also the recipient of USA Hockey's Bob Johnson Award in 2000 for excellence in international competition.
- A seven-time NHL All-Star Game selection (1984, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2000).
- Broke into the NHL as an 18-year-old, posting 66 points (19g-47a) in 77 games, finishing second 1983 Calder Trophy voting while being named to the 1983 NHL All-Rookie Team. Two seasons later, he became the youngest defenseman in NHL history to score 30 goals.
- A seven-time member of the U.S. National Team (1982, 1986, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003)
- A silver medalist at the 2002 Olympics and 1996 World Cup of Hockey champion.