Housley emerges as hot coaching candidate

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There are just two bench boss vacancies left in the NHL — in Florida and Buffalo, respectively — and they might stay vacant for a while.

How long?

Maybe until the Nashville Predators are done playing.

That’s because Preds assistant and Hall-of-Fame defenseman Phil Housley has emerged as a strong candidate. The Sun-Sentinel reported that Florida’s search is hinging on Housley’s availability (though TSN’s Pierre LeBrun has since countered that report), while the Sabres are also tied to him.

Housley, of course, spent the first eight years of his career in Buffalo.

The 53-year-old been widely praised for his work in Nashville over the last few seasons, especially what he’s done with the club’s defense. And these playoffs have been the perfect advertisement for both the blueline and its coach.

“He brings such a different element to coaching because of the player he was,” P.K. Subban said of Housley, per NHL.com. “He sees the game unlike probably anyone else who’s ever played the game.

“When he talks, all that matters to me is what is coming out of his mouth.”

Though all his NHL experience has come as an assistant, Housley has experience running a bench. He led the U.S. to gold at the ’13 World Juniors, coaching future big leaguers like Johnny Gaudreau, Jacob Trouba, Seth Jones, John Gibson and Shayne Gostisbehere, among others.

So now, interested suitors will have to play the waiting game.

It remains to be seen how long that game will take.