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The Buffalo Sabres named their former Hall of Fame defenseman Phil Housley head coach Thursday.


The St. Paul native was an assistant coach for the Nashville Predators, who lost in the Stanley Cup Final to Pittsburgh.

(Read Michael Russo's story on Phil and Karin Housley here.)

The 53-year-old former Stillwater High School coach, Housley spent the past four years in Nashville, earning praise for running one of the NHL’s top defense corps. The Predators hired Housley in 2013 after he coached the U.S. world junior team to a gold medal and earned a bronze as an assistant for the men’s world championship squad.

Nicknamed “Wowie” Housley in Buffalo, he was a redheaded wunderkind who starred on the Buffalo blue line. Drafted sixth overall in 1982, the South St. Paul high school star jumped right to the NHL. His rookie season featured 19 goals and 66 points in 77 games, plus three goals and seven points in 10 playoff games.

It was just the start. Housley had a 21-year career, including the first eight with the Sabres. He ranks fifth in franchise history with 558 points in 608 games and holds every single-season record for defensemen.
He retired in 2003 with the most points (1,232) and games played (1,495) by an American-born player. The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Housley in 2015.

Housley began coaching in his home state in 2004, and was behind the bench at Stillwater for nine years.
Nashville hired him as an assistant to Barry Trotz, and Housley was the only member of the staff to survive the transition to Peter Laviolette in 2014.

-- The Buffalo News