Housley is closing in on his staff

The Sabres coach joined the Instigators on Thursday

Paul Hamilton
June 29, 2017 - 12:18 pm

Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn - USA TODAY Sports


Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Phil Housley would not make himself available during the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, but he did come on WGR Sports Radio 550 on Thursday joining the Instigators.

Housley is spending his time interviewing assistant coaches and sitting in on free agent meetings. He said, “In the day to day we're trying to look into things in free agency and good fits for our team, Certainly we want to get better in that area and if there's possible solutions out there, we're going to try to make our team better.”

It seems like Andrew Allen is staying as Housley's goaltender coach and Tom Ward is still listed on the Sabres' web site. Housley said, “As far as assistant coaches go, I think we're getting close and we're just trying to nail them down, what are good fits for me and our team and our organization.”

“Hopefully we can get this done soon because Development Camp is coming up here.”

Housley can go a number of different ways in his search for assistants. He said, “We're certainly looking at NHL playing experience and NHL coaching experience, so all those avenues are open and sometimes its good to bring in some fresh guys that are young with energy and are enthusiastic, so we're looking at all those possibilities.”

Housley was in charge of developing some very good defensemen in Nashville. Here in Buffalo he has some good young talent in Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Brendan Guhle, Nate Beaulieu, Casey Nelson and Victor Antipin. He said there are things he'll want them to do, “The first advice is just getting used to the system that we want to put in place and that doesn't happen overnight. There's going to be some adjustments along the way, so patience is going to be a virtue.”

“Certainly we want the defensemen to be involved in the attack and slam walls to keep pucks in the zone,” Housley said. “And on top of that, we want to incorporate in our offensive zone play, our D getting involved in the play and not just standing on the blue line. We want to get some movement to create confusion against our opponent.”

Communication problems were a big reason why Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray were fired. It seems like the relationship between Housley and Jason Botterill is much different. Housley said that needs to convert to the players as well, “When I was announced as head coach, that was the first priority to try to reach out to the players and I did connect with all the players that were here last year and I think it was good conversations just to get a feel to where they were as their season went on as an individual and how the team's season went on.”

Housley also wanted feedback from the players and get acquainted because he feels relationships with players are very important, “I think it's really important that the coach tries to reach out and make that first step in the conversation.”

Housley has never seen Guhle play, but he has heard a lot about the 19-year-old. The new head coach said, “I've heard great things about him. He's a terrific skater, very quick and mobile and I'm excited to watch some film on him and all of our players to get a read of where they're at.”

For Guhle he may have to start the season in Rochester. Housley said, “Opportunity is going to be important and first impressions, so as we move forward here, I definitely want to see what this young guy has to offer.”

Housley will get his first chance to see Guhle during Development Camp July 8-11.

You can hear the entire Housley interview below:

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