BUFFALO – Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle still remembers a skinny rookie named Phil Housley entering the NHL fresh out of high school in 1982.
“I can remember Phil coming here as an 18-year-old defenseman and looking and saying, ‘Holy crow, how’s this kid going to last?’”
Well, Housley lasted a long time, playing 21 seasons, including eight with the Sabres, in what would be a Hall of Fame career.
But 36 years ago, Housley, as he has said in the past, “weighed 165 pounds soaking wet.”
“He found a way,” Carlyle said this morning after the Ducks prepared for their tilt against the Sabres. “Superior skills, skating skills, great hockey sense, a lot stronger than people give him credit for.”
Carlyle and Housley, who now coaches the Sabres, crossed paths in Winnipeg, where they were defense partners, neighbors and travel partners over three seasons with the Jets.
“He was in the voting for the Norris Trophy because he played with me,” Carlyle joked.
Thanks to a 23-goal, 86-point campaign, Housley finished third in the Norris voting in 1991-92. Eighteen goals and a career-high 97 points helped him finish fifth in the balloting in 1992-93.
To Carlyle, who won the Norris in 1980-81, Housley was far ahead of his time.
“Howie was a guy, in that game, in that era, he was a modern-day player as you would describe today,” Carlyle said. “Very fluid with the puck, puck-mover, good first pass, very mobile, retrieve pucks, wanted the puck all the time.
“That’s one thing that you learn about the best players in the league have the puck a lot, and he was one of those players that wanted the puck all the time.”
In other news, the Sabres, who lost 2-1 Friday in Washington, did not convene at KeyBank Center this morning. Updates will be available later in the afternoon.
Since defensemen Jake McCabe and Lawrence Pilut returned from injuries against the Capitals, the Sabres sent defenseman Brendan Guhle back to the Rochester Americans this morning.
Guhle, 21, had zero points in two outings.
Update: Housley said goalie Linus Ullmark will start tonight. The rest of the lineup will be the same.
He also said winger Jason Pominville, out with an undisclosed injury Friday, skated again today and is “getting close.”