The Nashville Predators did not take long to fill the opening on their coaching staff. More likely, they already planned to hire Phil Housley when they fired associate coach Peter Horachek on Monday.
Housley was named assistant coach Tuesday and scheduled for a formal introduction at a Wednesday press conference.
The 49-year-old was an assistant for Team USA 2013 IIHF at the World Championships, which concluded Sunday. The Americans finished with the bronze medal.
Nashville general manager David Poile was an executive with USA Hockey and was at the tournament, which was split between Sweden and Finland.
“Phil brings a unique skill set to our coaching staff,” Poile said in a statement. “He was one of the most talented offensive defensemen to play in the NHL, and he has worked extensively with young players during his coaching career. He will continue to focus his efforts on our young defensemen and assisting on the power play.”
Housley, 49, played 21 NHL seasons for eight teams in a career that ended after the 2002-03 season. His 1,232 points (338 goals, 894 assists) are fourth all-time among NHL defensemen and he appeared in seven NHL All-Star Games.
He was head coach for the U.S. junior national team that won a gold medal at the World Junior Championships earlier this year, earned a 2002 Olympic silver medal as a player and was a part of seven U.S. national teams.
“A coach with history as a defenseman who was offensively gifted and excelled on the power play is something we have never had on our coaching staff,” coach Barry Trotz said. “His insight and viewpoint will bring a fresh perspective to our team.”
Housley becomes the fourth assistant coach in Predators history who played in the NHL. Paul Gardner (447 games), Brent Peterson (620 games) and Lane Lambert (283 games) were forwards.
Horachek joined the Nashville staff as an assistant in 2003-04 and was promoted to associate coach two seasons ago. He had an extensive minor league playing career but never made the NHL.
He and Lambert both were promoted to NHL assistants after having been head coach for Nashville’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.