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Housley fired as Sabres coach

Buffalo finished 33-39-10 this season, hasn't made playoffs since 2011

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Phil Housley was fired as coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

The Sabres finished 33-39-10 in Housley's second season and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the eighth consecutive season. He was 58-84-22 with Buffalo after being hired June 15, 2017.

"Today was not an easy day, but the results in the second half were just not there," general manager Jason Botterill said. "Our fans expect more. We expect more. In the end, I thought this decision had to be made for our organization moving forward.

"In terms of filling this vacancy, the process has already begun. At this time, I do not have anything else to add about the search for possible candidates."

The Sabres appeared poised to end their playoff drought after winning 10 consecutive games from Nov. 8-27. But they were 17-30-8 in their final 55 games and finished 22 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

The 55-year-old was an assistant with the Nashville Predators the previous four seasons. He was credited with building a skilled, speedy group of defensemen who helped Nashville advance to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, the first for the Predators since entering the NHL in 1998.

Being hired by the Sabres was a homecoming for Housley, who was selected by Buffalo with the No. 6 pick in the 1982 NHL Draft and played the first eight of his 21 NHL seasons for the Sabres. He retired after the 2002-03 season with 1,232 points (338 goals, 894 assists), third in NHL history among United States-born players and fourth overall among defensemen. Housley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

He spent nine years as a high school coach in Minnesota and coached the gold medal-winning United States team at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship before joining the Predators.

Housley was fired not long after the Florida Panthers fired Bob Boughner. In all, nine coaches have been fired this season, including Guy Boucher (Ottawa Senators), Randy Carlyle (Anaheim Ducks), Dave Hakstol (Philadelphia Flyers), Todd McLellan (Edmonton Oilers), Mike Yeo (St. Louis Blues), Joel Quenneville (Chicago Blackhawks) and John Stevens (Kings). Also, the Kings said Sunday that Willie Desjardins, who was hired to replace Stevens, would not be back next season.

Buffalo last reached the playoffs in 2011, when the Sabres lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. They have not won a playoff series since advancing to the Eastern Conference Final in 2007.

 

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