The Buffalo Sabres turned to a familiar face on Thursday when they named Phil Housley as the 18th head coach in franchise history.
Housley has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators, but the Hockey Hall of Famer also enjoyed a decorated playing career in western New York. The 53-year-old is the Sabres' franchise leader in nearly all offensive categories for a defenseman.
"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," Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said. "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 replaces Dan Bylsma, who was fired along with general manager Tim Murray in April. The Minnesota native does not have any head coaching experience at the professional league level, but did guide Team USA to a gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2013 and served as an assistant for the Americans at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Housley recorded 338 goals and 894 assists in 1,495 career games with eight teams during his 21-year career, which came to an end after the 2002-03 season. His 1,232 career points rank third among American players and fourth among defensemen all-time.
Housley is Buffalo's franchise leader among defensemen in career goals (156), assists (334), points (490) as well as single-season goals (31, 1983-84), single-season assists (60, 1989-90), single-season points (81, 1989-90).
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.