Thursday, June 15, 2017

Phil Housley: Two Autographed Cards

Phil Housley is going home, in a way.

Indeed, the former Buffalo Sabres star defenseman was named the team's new head coach, just hours after the Nashville Predators fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the Stanley Cup Final, going back to the franchise that initially drafted him 6th overall in 1982, behind Gord Kluzak (1st, Boston Bruins), Brian Bellows (2nd, Minnesota North Stars), Gary Nylund (3rd, Toronto Maple Leafs), Ron Sutter (4th, Philadelphia Flyers), and Scott Stevens (5th, Washington Capitals), and ahead of the likes of Rich Sutter (10th, Pittsburgh Penguins), David Shaw (13th, Québec Nordiques), Chris Kontos (15th, New York Rangers), Dave Andreychuk (16th, Sabres), Murray Craven (17th, Detroit Red Wings), Ken Daneyko (18th, New Jersey Devils), Patrick Flatley (21st, New York Islanders), Gary Leeman (24th, Leafs), Paul Gillis (34th, Nordiques), Tomas Sandstrom (36th, Rangers), Pat Verbeek (43rd, Devils), Ken Wregget (45th, Leafs), Troy Loney (52nd, Pens), Mario Gosselin (55th, Nordiques), Kevin Dineen (56th, Hartford Whalers), Corey Millen (57th, Rangers), Dave Reid (60th, Bruins), Ulf Samuelsson (67th, Whalers), Mark Lamb (72nd, Calgary Flames), Vladimir Ruzicka (73rd, Leafs), Dave Ellett (75th, Winnipeg Jets), Bob Rouse (80th, North Stars), Alan Kerr (84th, Isles), Brad Shaw (86th, Wings), Ray Ferraro (88th, Whalers), Dean Evason (89th, Caps), Claude Vilgrain (107th, Wings), Randy Gilhen (109th, Whalers), Ron Hextall (199th, Flyers), Tony Granato (120th, Rangers), Bob Sweeney (123rd, Bruins), Doug Gilmour (134th, St. Louis Blues), Dave Brown (140th, Flyers), Mike Hough (181st, Nordiques), and Kelly Miller (183rd, Rangers).

Out of that draft year, you could say the biggest home run was Gilmour, and a few teams drafted particularly well (Flyers, Rangers, Wings, Nordiques and Whalers). If we could go back in time, my top-10 would likely be:
10. Tony Granato
9. Dave Andreychuk
8. Ron Hextall
7. Ulf Samuelsson
6. Murray Craven
5. Kevin Dineen
4. Brian Bellows
3. Doug Gilmour
2. Scott Stevens
1. Phil Housley
Going back to Housley himself, the American defender has a stellar career, posting career totals of 338 goals, 894 assists and 1232 points in 1495 regular-season games, and an additional 13 goals, 43 assists and 56 points in 85 playoff games, the first half against strong Adams Division rivals (the Bruins and Montréal Canadiens each reached the Final twice in the 1980s) and the middle part against the Edmonton Oilers dynasty...

Late in his career, he became a regular on the waiver wire, but during his prime, he was fairly traded for the likes of Hall of Famers Dale Hawerchuk and Al MacInnis, just to give you an idea.

Upon retiring, he turned to coaching - obviously - starting out with nine seasons coaching the Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota, then won a gold medal coaching Team USA at the 2013 World Juniors before spending the last four seasons as an assistant-coach in Nashville, a role he has also held with the American National Team four different times, at the 2011, 2013 (bronze medal) and 2014 World Championships, as well as the 2016 World Cup.

As a player, he has a silver medal from the 2002 Olympics, and was a member of the 1996 World Cup team that beat Canada in the Final in Montréal. He played in seven All-Star Games.

Despite also suiting up for the Sabres, Flames, Devils, Caps, Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, I usually picture him as the blue-line leader for the Jets, sporting the alternate captain's "A", as seen in these two cards he signed in blue sharpie during his Hall of Fame induction weekend in 2015; let's start with the home (white) uniform, on card #440 from Score's 1992-93 Score set and Franchise sub-set, a card that defines him in my opinion, with the Jofa helmet and a Sabres player in the background:
And here he is wearing the blue (away) uniform, on card #276 from Upper Deck's 1992-93 Series 1 set:
Yes, this "A" seems cheaper, like it was made out of tape or a roughly-cut piece of plastic that was ironed on the jersey, typical of the "old" rinky-dink NHL. I love it!

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