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Predators hire Phil Housley to replace Horachek

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Nashville Predators have hired Phil Housley as an assistant coach to fill the spot left open by the firing of associate coach Peter Horachek after nine seasons with the franchise.

General manager David Poile announced the move Tuesday just hours after the Predators confirmed Horachek's firing in a statement posted on the franchise's website. Housley played 21 NHL seasons with eight different teams, and he just coached the United States to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships.

``Phil brings a unique skill set to our coaching staff,'' Poile said in a statement. ``He was one of the most talented offensive defensemen to play in the NHL, and he has worked extensively with young players during his coaching career. He will continue to focus his efforts on our young defensemen and assisting on the power play.''

Housley, 49, ranks fourth all-time among defensemen with 1,232 points as a seven-time All Star. He also was an assistant coach for the United States at the World Championships where the Americans took home bronze for their first medal at the tournament in nine years.

``A coach with history as a defenseman who was offensively gifted and excelled on the power play is something we have never had on our coaching staff,'' coach Barry Trotz said. ``His insight and viewpoint will bring a fresh perspective to our team.''

The hiring comes after Horachek reportedly was fired Monday night, though the Predators would not comment. They finally confirmed Horachek's firing Tuesday posting a statement on the team's website. Poile thanked Horachek for his contributions on the website, but the GM said in a short statement they made the ``difficult decision'' to allow Horachek to pursue other opportunities.

Horachek had been with the Predators since June 2003, and he interviewed for Dallas' head coaching job in 2011. With Nashville, he helped develop the Predators' draft picks and worked with the power play and the penalty kill.

But the Predators went 16-23-9 for their first season below .500 since 2002-03.

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