LIVE ON WBEN: Meet Phil Housley, Again

New Sabres Coach On His Buffalo Career and the Need For A Better Team

WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger


(WBEN)  It's been 27 years since Phil Housley wore a Sabres uniform but he says he still gets goose bumps when he hears the famous Ric Jeanneret "Wow-weeeeeee Hous-leyyyyyyy" play-by-play call that rang out of Buffalo radios and TV's every time he scored a goal in his time as a superstar defenseman.  And in a wide-ranging interview one day after he was unveiled as the team's next head coach, he spoke of the special place Buffalo has in his heart.

"We really started our life here. " he said of his family and a hockey career that began here as an 18-year-old- rookie. "I had two kids born here out of the four and it just seems its so comfortable coming back because of the people here, and the passion for the sports teams.  To reminisce and sort of pinch ourselves. "

Housley takes over as a first-time NHL head coach in replacing Dan Bylsma, who was fired along with general manager Tim Murray in April after Buffalo extended its franchise worst playoff drought to six years. And in a wide-ranging interview Friday, he said he understands the fan hunger for better days.

"We've got to build a culture first and the way we want to play and that's going to be a process. But we want to be competitive for sure. We've got to earn the loyalty of the fans back. And I wouldn't be here to say we don't want to make the playoffs.. 

But echoing his remarks when he was first introduced to the media on Thursday, he also tells WBEN's Susan Rose and Brian Mazurowski  that change takes time.

"I fall back on our season in Nashville. We were 2 (wins) 7(losses) and 1 (tie)  in October and we were supposed to be the division leader and a Stanley Cup contender. And we had to go though a little bit of a building process there. We had to go back into that building process... You can't get into the playoffs in October it's a process.

Housley started in the NHL  in Buffalo in 1982, drafted number 6 in the overall draft as an 18 year old. Traded to Winnipeg in 1990, between then and 2003 he also played for the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs before being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005.  As a player, Housley's 1,232 career points (338 goals and 894 assists) rank third among American-born players and fourth among all NHL defenseman.

Housley also spoke of his wife Karin, a sitting Minnesota State  legislator, and how his Buffalo homecoming comes just days after the Nashville Predators-- where he was an assistant coach-- were in the run-up to the Stanley Cup.

On The Week:
"It's been extraordinary. What a roller coaster of emotions has it been for me. Being two wins away from a Stanley Cup and then being announced head coach of the Sabres in a short period of time. It has been exciting for me and  my family 

On the upcoming draft and free agency: 
"I really like our team. Not getting into individual personnel but I really like the makeup of our team. Some pieces of the puzzle we are looking to work on to make our team  better but from a starting point, I am looking at our club and am really excited to work with these players and I think they are going to be excited about the style of hockey we want to play. 

We have the 8th pick. We are going to get a really good player , so I'm looking forward to that.

On re-creating the Nashville Defense here:
"We definitely want to play that kind of hockey. We want our defenseman involved in the play in the offensive zone... its going to take some time for them to get used to me and how our systems will go but once they get it, they'll be excited

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