Welcome to a "Ask a Leaf" on mapleleafs.com where you can ask a question of a member of the Maple Leafs each week and see selected answers posted here. You will also be able to see the answers on FanCam, one of the more popular shows on Leafs TV.
Recently, we had the chance to do a Q+A with veteran Maple Leafs' D-man, Phil Housley. Q
: How long have you been playing professional hockey? Phil
: "Well I'm very fortunate to have played this long, when I look back at how I came into the league at 18 years old. I never would have known that I would have made it this far, now playing 21 years in the league. Since I have come in, guys are going to camp to get in shape, after 4-5 years guys were getting into shape before camp. Which is pretty much a ritual of mine, that's why I have lasted so long, and survived because of off season work outs and the strengthening and flexibility, this is how I have played so long."
| Housley joined the Leafs late in the 2003-03 season and is hoping to be back in the fall. |
Graig Abel Photography.
: What has it been like to play in the NHL for 21 years? Phil
: "I think it has a lot to do with coaches having faith in me, and taking the advantages and opportunities that I have been given, and the one I have been given to play here. You're always trying to prove yourself, things are never handed to you, and I think that's what motivates me every year. You have to prove yourself to your teammates, and to players around the league. I really try to gain the respect through my playing I think that's what motivates me." Q
: What is it like to nearly reach 1500 games in your NHL career? Phil
: "I thought making 1000 was a great milestone for me. There's not many players in the history of this league that have done it, and now a days you see more and more players doing it. Experience has a lot to do with it. I know being 6-7 games away from it, and to think that I have played the 21 years, you just don't plan on this happening. It is just something that comes with the territory. " Q
: As an American player who has played in both countries, do other NHL teams consider hockey a Canadian game? Phil
: "I definitely think so. The Canadian people are very knowledgeable of the game. It's ironic, some of the best years at hand are the times I have played in Canada. It feels really good to be back here, especially in such a historical franchise like the Toronto Maple Leafs." Q
: How frustrating is it as player to have a major injury? Phil
: "When a team trades for you when your injured that makes you feel good about yourself, you know that the team wants you. Hopefully for this year and maybe for the next. The injury comes as a part of the game, you know, I haven't had a lot of them in my career. I have been pretty healthy, other then back surgery in '94. Besides that, I have been in good health. It is frustrating, but I just try to use the positives, get some rest, get some really good workouts, and watch the guys on the ice to see what their instincts, and their tendencies. It gives me that little advantage to see what they do." Q
: How did it feel to be traded this year from the Blackhawks to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Phil
: "Well I know there was some teams that were interested in me. I talked to the general manager Mike Smith before I got traded and he said he might move me, when I heard it was Toronto I was really excited. I had known about the deals that they made before me as well which was great. The team was great before I got here, and they have added some real experienced guys like Owen Nolan, Glen Wesley, Doug Gilmour and myself. I'm just here to try to fit in. I'm really excited though with the team that we have right now." Check back in upcoming weeks for the next installment and see the Features Archive for past installments of "Ask a Leaf".