Nashville Predators assistant coach Phil Housley has emerged as the frontrunner to be the next coach of the New Jersey Devils, NJ.com reported Saturday.
Hiring a coach is the first big decision for general manager Ray Shero, who was hired by the Devils on May 4. The Devils and the Detroit Red Wings are the only NHL teams without a coach.
Housley, 51, has been with the Predators for two seasons. He coached the United States to the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship; among the players on the team was forward Blake Pietila, who signed an entry-level contract with the Devils on Wednesday. He also was an assistant coach for the U.S. at the World Championship in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
During a 21-season NHL playing career, Housley was a defenseman for eight teams, including 22 games for the Devils during the 1995-96 season. He played 1,495 games, and his 1,232 points are second-most among U.S.-born players. He was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.
NJ.com reported other candidates for the job are former Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher; Washington Capitals assistant coach Todd Reirden; and John Hynes, the coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League. Reirden and Hynes worked for Shero when he was general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.