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Grimson on Housley

Friday, 05.24.2013 / 12:19 PM CT
By Stu Grimson - TV Analyst / Stu Grimson's Blog
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The Nashville Predators recently announced that Phil Housley was hired to position of assistant coach. “Phil brings a unique skill set to our coaching staff,” GM David Poile said. “He was one of the most talented offensive defensemen to play in the NHL, and he has worked extensively with young players during his coaching career. He will continue to focus his efforts on our young defensemen and assisting on the power play.”

What’s not to like about this move? The Predators land one of the rising stars from the coaching ranks; having just steered the U.S. Juniors to a World Championship in Ufa, Russia. A former player who is among the most dynamic offensive players to have played the game. But dig a little deeper into Poile’s comments and you really start to warm up to this transaction.

“Assisting on the power play.” In 2011-12, the Predators possessed what was arguably the most lethal power play in the NHL. This aspect of their special teams was a prominent factor in the most successful season in the franchise’s history.

Fast forward to 2012-13, the Predators PP languished in the bottom third of the League throughout a compressed schedule. A lackluster power play is not the sole explanation behind the club’s 27th place finish; however, it was, at a minimum, a contributing reason.

Phil Housley knows this part of the game. You could argue it was the part of the game he knew best. I played against Housley my entire career; he was as close as you come to a quarterback on skates. He was a unique blend of high-end skill that saw the ice exceptionally well and anticipated the play even better. Scoring 30 goals in this League as a defenseman supports that.

But here’s my point. He could play and he’s proven that he can teach and motivate others to do the same. He appears to be that rare combination of exceptional natural ability on ice in addition to showing he’s a difference-maker behind the bench. Going forward, the capable guiding hand necessary for a more productive power play appears to be in place.

“Our young defenseman.” Josi, Bartley, Ellis, Blum …. gosh, Weber and Klein haven’t hit 30 yet. With the exception of veteran rear-guard. Hal Gill, the Predators possess a very young backend.

And what the Predators are learning is that you don’t just plug an unproven blueliner into your line-up and simply tell him you need him to become an everyday NHLer. A prospect – especially one that plays defense – must be developed over time.

Phil Housley, enter and sign in please. He’s demonstrated that he can get a group of skilled young athletes pulling in the same direction. His gold medal junior team held the opposition to just nine goals in the seven games they played in what tends to be a rather high-scoring tournament. The one challenge for Housley becomes fine-tuning his approach to ensure that these elements transfer to the NHL level.

Are better days ahead for the Preds? Assuming an assistant coach has anything to say about it, probably so.

See you around the rink.

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 57 36 17 4 158 130 76
2 DAL 54 34 15 5 174 145 73
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 52 32 17 3 144 119 67
5 SJS 52 28 20 4 149 138 60
6 ANA 52 26 19 7 117 122 59
7 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
8 COL 56 27 25 4 149 155 58
9 MIN 53 23 20 10 130 130 56
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 53 21 20 12 123 143 54
12 CGY 52 24 25 3 138 151 51
13 WPG 53 24 26 3 137 151 51
14 EDM 55 21 29 5 133 166 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 54 11 27 -3 38
F. Forsberg 54 17 18 -7 35
S. Weber 54 14 21 -5 35
M. Ribeiro 54 6 27 2 33
J. Neal 54 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 54 6 18 3 24
R. Ellis 53 6 16 2 22
C. Smith 54 11 7 -2 18
C. Jarnkrok 53 9 8 0 17
C. Wilson 37 4 12 -1 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 18 7 .903 2.54
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36