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Housley hire brings coaching synergy, systematic defensive direction

The Coyotes hired the Hall-of-Famer as an assistant coach Wednesday, appointed to lead the team's defense

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes

Phil Housley on Wednesday was introduced as an addition to Rick Tocchet's staff as an assistant coach, the new appointed leader of the team's defense.

An addition that John Chayka termed with "synergy".

Housley, a Hall-of-Fame defenseman, brings a decorated resume to Arizona, one that includes a 1,495-game NHL playing career and a six-year preceding coaching stretch with the Nashville Predators and Buffalo Sabres.

"I'm looking forward to working with him, learning from him, picking his brain on things, and his resume speaks for itself," Chayka said following the announcement. "I think it's a tremendous hire, I know he had a lot of options, and for him to come here to Arizona to us, it's important."

The Coyotes defense has been and continues to be stabilized with experience and a class of young up-and-coming names soon to break into the fold. With the team as a whole, there is an undeniable balance to the structure, which is one of the aspects that intrigued Housley during the hiring process.

"I think it's a very exciting team," he said when asked of his observations of last year's Coyotes team. "They've got a very good young core of forwards sprinkled in with some solid veterans, a really good solid defensive core that really drove the engine with some solid goaltending, so we're going to look to try and improve what they did last year. I think guys got a little taste of what it takes to get to the playoffs near the end there, and that experience is going to help this season."

Video: Phil Housley Joins Staff

During his 21-year playing career, Housley played alongside both Tocchet (Washington Capitals 1996-97) and assistant coach John MacLean (New Jersey Devils 1995-96), experiences that laid the foundation for long-lasting relationships with the two.

"They're very knowledgeable," Housley stated of the two former teammates he'll coach alongside. "With their playing experience, it only helps the credibility, and just having been able to play with them, they're very easy guys to get along. The way they coach, they're very approachable, they want input, they want your opinion, and it really makes me comfortable."

The Coyotes' northbound aggressive defensive blueprint, a central focus to the game Tocchet instills in his team's game-by-game approach, is one Housley feels he can enhance.

"[Rick] wants to play fast, he wants to move the puck north, and he wants to get our defense involved, which are things that I look for," he said. "Going back to my experiences being a defensive coach, defensemen were always a big part of the attack and that's what he's looking for, in transition. I really like the way Rick approaches the game, how he wants to play, and his vision for the game, and I'm just here to try to emulate what he wants."

The similarities are evident in the way Tocchet wants the Coyotes' defense to play and the vision Housley has for the corps he instructs. Chayka, in the broad spectrum, is confident the two can execute on a linear game plan and that the new assistant coach can reinforce that with while catering to each player.

"I think individually if he can maximize our players, both young and veteran, that will help us take the next step with what we think is a very strong defense core already," Chayka said with an air of poise.

Like any coach or player, Housley will look to embrace his background as he progresses into his new role.

"I've been able to be an assistant coach for four years coaching the defense corps in Nashville, coaching Buffalo, I'm just going to pull from those experiences, which are really going to help me translate into Arizona."

Adding of Tocchet and MacLean, Housley said of his former teammates and now fellow coaches:

"I think the transition is going to be very easy because of those experiences I've had with them, they're terrific people."

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