Longtime Sabres broadcast analyst Rob Ray set the record straight this evening that he has no issues with new coach Phil Housley and said he was thrilled the former Buffalo defenseman was named the team's 18th coach Thursday afternoon.
"It's a good hire, a really good one," Ray told The Buffalo News. "It's got some major advantages. He's got connections with USA Hockey, with Jack (Eichel). He's somebody those kids will all look at and say, 'Hey this guy is an accomplished player. He's done it all.'"
Ray is the president of the team's Alumni Association and a 2003 story making the rounds today was that Ray "detested" Housley. Ray discounted that story as old hockey talk and noted, "I've probably dealt with Phil 50 times since then for things like the alumni association or when we played Nashville."
Ray and Housley played together for just one season, when Ray played 27 games for Buffalo as a 21-year-old rookie in 1989-90. Housley was traded to Winnipeg after that season.
"Everybody matures and moves on," said Ray, now 49. "All that is over. You play with guys who you dislike, guys you love and guys you never see again. You don't hold a grudge for 30 years. That was 25-30 years ago. I called [former coach] John Muckler a certain word 25 times back then. I love the old man now."
Ray said he was impressed with how Housley utilized the defense corps during Nashville's run to the Stanley Cup final.
"What was noticeable for me with their mobile guys was that there was no play safe and no big problems in their own zone," he said. "And in any whiteboard situation it was Phil taking charge of it. Peter Laviolette was right there and you had Phil taking charge of everything on the ice. That's huge.
"Our guys will see that and they will learn what Phil Housley has accomplished. There's no way of showing disrespect to him. And 'Joe Blow' behind the bench doesn't have the same respect as somebody who is an accomplished player like this."