McCabe: 'When Housley has something to say, you're going to listen to him'

Hear what the Sabres defenseman had to say with The Instigators on Friday

Brayton Wilson
June 17, 2017 - 5:45 pm

Photo: Andre Ringuette - HHOF-IIHF Images


Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe has some history with USA Hockey, leading Team USA to a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. McCabe scored three goals in the tournament, including two in the semifinals against Canada to help get them to the gold medal game against Sweden.

The head coach of that gold medal winning team was current Sabres head coach Phil Housley. 

On Thursday, the Sabres hired Housley as the 18th head coach in franchise history. For Housley, this is his first head coaching job in the NHL after spending the past four seasons with the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach. In Nashville, Housley was largely responsible for the success of the defense, which played a huge role in the Predators' run to the Stanley Cup Final this season.

Now, McCabe gets to be re-united with Housley in Buffalo, which has him looking forward to what is to come for the Sabres.

"I think it's exciting," McCabe said with The Instigators on Friday on WGR. "He was such a successful player for how long he played in 21 years or so. Obviously a Hall of Famer and one of the best Americans ever to play the game. It's exciting in that aspect in itself. And especially from a defenseman's standpoint, I think all of us on the back end are probably pretty excited for what he can bring to the table. Just watching Nashville and how impressive they were and it was pretty much driven by their defense. That says a lot about what he did for that team, and what he can do for us too."

While recollecting about the World Juniors, McCabe said that he struggled in the pre-tournament games leading up to going to Russia. Following one of the pre-tournament games he struggled in, Housley approached McCabe and told him to just play the game he can play and success will come. McCabe ended up making the final roster for the tournament, and Housley ended up naming him the captain of the team.

Aside from McCabe, that team was made up of many current NHLers including forwards J.T. Miller, Johnny Gaudreau, Alex Galchenyuk, defensemen Seth Jones, Jacob Trouba, Shayne Gostisbehere and goalie John Gibson. McCabe said that the way Housley handled that team was a huge reason for their success in the seven-game tournament.

"For those tournaments it's tough," McCabe said. "They're such short tournaments and you need to dial it in really quickly. You're pretty much trying to improve every single game. We did that that tournament and he did a great job. There's a lot of talented guys on that team. You've got Galchenyuk, Trouba, Jones, Gaudreau, Miller, the list goes on and on about the star power, up front especially. We had a good d-core on the back end. He paired us up well, and gave us a good balancing act on the back end. He's one of those guys you really want to play for."

Even though it was four years ago when McCabe last played under Housley, he knows the type of respect players gave to him. Now that Housley is ready to take the reigns of a team in the NHL, McCabe couldn't be more excited for what what Housley can bring to the table.

"You know his resume, and you know he knows the game. When he has something to say, you're going to listen to him. That was three or four years ago, so I'm sure he's changed over the last couple of years working under (Peter) Laviolette. Obviously he's learned a lot about the pro game and the coaching game, and he's ready to make the next step. I think we're all pretty excited to see what kind of brand of hockey he wants to us play, and I think the fans will enjoy it as well."

"The way he carries himself and just talks to us, it's with a lot of passion. He really truly just wants to win so bad, and it's easy to get behind when someone carries that passion."

Perhaps what McCabe is more impressed with is the way Housley interacted with his players as a head coach. McCabe appreciates the mentality that Housley brings to the game, which allows the chance for his players for the greatest chance to succeed.

"His (kind of) attitude is just to stick with it, stick with the process and good things will happen. If we fall behind in a game, whatever it may be, he's motivating us to stick with it. We did have a lot of great players, but he did a good job of balancing out who was playing with who and if a guy was not going, he'd get them going and bring them aside. Little things like that go a long way. I think he did a great job in that aspect."

"These guys are anxious I'm sure to see how we're going to get better and get our feet back. Just listening to a few guys in conversations with the media or whoever, a lot of (the issues) is communication with the players which is huge. I think we're anxious to get going, and I think they're ready to listen to us and what we think. It's going to be an exciting year."

You can hear McCabe's entire interview on Housley below:

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