On Monday, Phil Housley, now an assistant coach for the Nashville Predators, became only the third Minnesotan to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He received his plaque from Pat LaFontaine on stage at the ceremony held in Toronto.
During his speech, Housley thanked his parents and family for always supporting him. He also noted fond memories of the Sabres and Scotty Bowman, who drafted him sixth overall in 1982. Enamored with him, Bowman, then a five-time Stanley Cup winning coach said, “Phil Housley is the nearest thing to Bobby Orr I’ve seen.” Bowman was in the audience.
“He took a chance on a high school kid that probably weighed 165 pounds soaking wet, and gave me an opportunity,” Housley added. Upon making the Sabres’ opening-night roster four months after being drafted, Housley scored 66 points in 77 games.
Housley went on to become the all-time scoring leader for American defenseman, tallying 1,232 points (338G, 894A) in 1,495 games over a 21 year career. He ranks 4th in scoring all-time for defenseman, with his best season coming in 1992-93 for the Winnipeg Jets when he scored 97 points in 80 games. Almost half of his career points (129G, 480A) came on the power play.
“I’m very honored. This means a lot to me,” he remarked. “The game has given so much to me and my family. I accept this great honor on behalf of my family and friends. And I know I’ll cherish this day for the rest of my life.”
As a youngster, Housley played center, but switched to being a defenseman in high school. “It was an easy transition for me,“ he said. That move changed his future as he went on to become one of the most dynamic d-man of his era.
In a classy move, the Sabres took out a full-page ad in The Buffalo News on Monday to congratulate Housley on his induction.
“When you’re growing up as a kid and when you get to the NHL, you never really think that you’re playing to become a Hall of Famer,” Housley said. “You’re just in the moment, but certainly when you look back at all the hard work that went into it, and all the great people and players that you played with that put you in this position, I’m very grateful.”
His resume includes 7 All-Star Games appearances. And though he never won a Stanley Cup, he came closest with the Capitals in 1998 when they were swept in the Finals by the Detriot Red Wings.
He’s played in more NHL games without winning the Stanley Cup than any player in NHL history. He laced his skates up for Buffalo, Winnipeg, St. Louis, Calgary, New Jersey, Washington and Toronto.
At the 1990 Entry Draft, Housley was traded to Winnipeg by Buffalo with Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and Buffalo’s 1st round choice (Keith Tkachuk) for Dale Hawerchuk and Winnipeg’s 1st round choice (Brad May).
Married to his high school sweetheart, Karin, together they have four children: Taylor, Reide, Wilson and Avery. He wears different ties for different children to let them know it’s their special ‘tie’ night. He also recently became a grandfather, enjoying every moment he can with Lewis, aka “Sweet Lew.”
The 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee class also includes: Sergei Fedorov, Bill Hay, Peter Karmanos Jr., Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger and Angela Ruggiero. Housley, Lidstrom and Fedorov were arguably three of the best D-men in the last 25 years. They’re all influential figures for their country, inspiring generations of hockey players.