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Housley all for the red, white and blue as Olympics near

It's time for the Winter Olympics, which means it is time for Phil Housley to let his patriotism show.

"I was part of USA Hockey, and I'm always rooting for USA Hockey," the Buffalo Sabres coach said Wednesday. "I've got deep roots there. USA Hockey really had an impact on my life whether I was playing or being a coach, so I'm all for the red, white and blue."

The Minnesota native represented the United States in the 2002 Olympics, six world championships (1982, '86, '89, 2000, 2001, 2003), one world juniors (1982), the Canada Cup (1984) and the World Cup (1996). He is also a seven-time member of USA Hockey coaching staffs.

So when the Opening Ceremonies commence Friday and the puck drops Wednesday, Housley will be watching.

"I'm always interested in all aspects of the Winter Olympics and trying to root on our country and the people representing it," Housley said in KeyBank Center. "It's going to be interesting this year to see how this plays out. We're putting a team together without NHL players.

"You might want to think that the Russians or the European teams might have a little bit of an edge because they have their groups together before they're heading to the Olympics, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out."

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The gambling website Bovada has the Olympic Athletes from Russia as even-money favorites, followed by Canada, Sweden (9-to-2 each), Finland (8-to-1), Czech Republic (9-to-1) and the USA (10-to-1).

The United States will be captained by former Sabres forward Brian Gionta.

"I played with Brian Gionta in 2000 on the U.S. team," Housley said of the world championships. "I haven't really looked at the roster real hard, but when those games come I go, 'I know that guy. I coached him.' "

The U.S. team also features defenseman Will Borgen, a 21-year-old from St. Cloud State who was drafted by Buffalo in the fourth round in 2015.

"He's really had a solid season," Housley said of Borgen, who has two goals and 12 points in 26 games. "I know the scouts that have watched him have really good praise for him. It'll be interesting to see how he plays."

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