BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - To our displeasure, Phil Housley did not walk out of the shadows of the Key Bank Center atrium to "Public Service Announcement" by Jay-Z or "Welcome Back" by Mase.
No worries, the 18th head coach in franchise history made a strong first impression as he was reintroduced to Western New York. Housley talked the talk, but will he walk the walk? Nobody knows, but we'll find out soon.
Five observations from Housley's introductory media conference:
He seems genuinely excited
"No, I don't think it's really sunk in (yet). Really." Housley said with a smile. "My wife and my family were excited to come back to Buffalo, and be a part of this community."
"But I'm really looking forward to the challenge and I'm really excited. I don't think people realize how pumped I am about coming back to Buffalo, and being a part of this organization and trying to do something special here."
Cup of Coffee
Remember at the end of the season when Tim Murray said he likes coaches who grab a coffee and hang out in the locker room, rather than watching film all day? Well, Murray and the main coach he was talking about are both gone, but Housley seems to have a similar "cup of coffee" approach.
"I think I want to be rubbing shoulders with the players. I understand what they're going through and I think that's one of the biggest assets that I have, is going through the battles with them."
While in Nashville, Housley was popular both on and off the ice with his former players. The Predators, especially the defensemen, raved about him during the Stanley Cup Final, crediting his light-hearted persona and successful career as a player.
"I mean obviously I'm the head coach the message has to be firm, but I think if you can get in there with them and be apart of something," Housley added. "I think that's the one thing I've learned, they'll play for you."
Pace of play
Defense leads to offense and that's what the new Sabres bench boss firmly believes. Housley, like so many before him, preached a desire to play a fast-paced, uptempo game.
Sometimes that comes across as a coach blowing smoke, but when you like at his time as a player and his previous team in Nashville, that doesn't seem too far-fetched.
Housley adds that he likes a lot of the players in place, and sees great potential in the roster. We've heard that before, haven't we?
“I feel I’m ready,” Housley answered when asked about how he's grown as a coach over the years.
Housley's biggest knock is his lack of experience, something he didn't shy away from. When asked what words he would use to describe himself he answered:
“Intense, patient, competitive, willing to win, respecting and credible. Those are some of the words that come to mind, but you learn from your experiences."
When Botterill talks, we listen
The Sabres GM met with reporters for about five minutes after Housley's introduction and touched on multiple Sabres hot topics, including:
Botterill believes Okposo will be ready for training camp
The two sides expect to talk again next week. Petersen, perhaps, is waiting to see how things play out with the expansion draft and NHL draft
Botterill has chatted with Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee about the expansion draft. He doesn't know what will happen, but the two sides have had an open line of communication and that will continue.