|Born: March 9, 1964 in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States
Few American players in the long and great history of hockey in the U.S. can boast a résumé with both significant NHL success and international participation. Phil Housley can, largely because he started his career at a young age and played for some two decades, representing his nine NHL teams and his country with a pride and skill that few could match.
Housley was one of the first Americans to be drafted straight out of high school. Buffalo selected him sixth overall in 1982 while the 18-year-old was still at South St. Paul High School in his hometown, and he made the Sabres at his rookie training camp that fall. He had made his Team USA debut earlier in the year at the U20, where the team finished sixth.
He was what one might call a second generation rushing defenceman, having grown up watching Bobby Orr, Brad Park, and Denis Potvin create so much offence while playing defence.
Cut from the same cloth, Housley was a superior skater and pinpoint passer who also had a great shot. These attributes made for a superstar blueliner, and in each of his first eleven seasons he had at least 60 points, peaking in 1992-93, with Winnipeg, when he had 97 points. During his career he played at the NHLs All-Star Game seven times, a clear indication that he was among the very best of the best.
Housley always answered the call to play for his country. He took part at the IIHF World Championships on six occasions, scoring nine goals and 15 assists in 46 games. As well, he played for Team USA at the 1984 and 1987 Canada Cup tournaments and its successor, the 1996 World Cup, where the gold was USA Hockey's biggest triumph since the 1980 Miracle on Ice.
Although his final international appearance came at the 2003 World Championship in Finland, his last great blaze of glory came a year previous when he helped his country to a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake. Housley, in fact, scored what proved to be the winning goal for the U.S. in a spectacularly exciting 3-2 win over Russia in the semi-finals before the team fell to Canada, 5-2, in the gold medal game.
At the age of 38, Housley led all U.S. defensemen in Salt Lake City with five points in six games. Only three U.S. forwards on this spectacular 2002 Olympic team had more points than Phil Housley.
Housley becomes the 20th American to join the IIHF Hall of Fame.