After much speculation and painstaking deliberation, the Edmonton Oilers have named Ralph Krueger their new head coach on Wednesday morning.
After almost three months of decision-making, the former Oilers assistant coach finally gets his shot.
While new to the head coaching ranks of the NHL, Krueger is certainly not new coaching and boasts an impressive resume. He was previously Tom Renney’s right hand man for the past two years and before that he served as the head coach for Switzerland’s national team from 1997-2010, the longest tenure for a national team coach in the modern era. He also had a brief stint with the Carolina Hurricanes in their scouting department.
While Krueger has a lot of qualities similar to that of Renney, he is still his own man and will bring his own style to the position;
“But every leader is unique and has his own style. My cornerstones are respect and creating an honest environment with accountability being really high. I’m a big fan of discipline with simple priorities — hard work and accountability.”
The 52-year old Winnipeg native is known as a cerebral, thinking man’s coach. He even has his own motivational speaking company, Teamlife (From Failure to Success), and wrote a book with the same title.
A smart and charismatic leader, he was known as a defensive minded coach in his days with the Swiss national team, however he doesn’t see himself as branded with one style of play;
“I’m not a defensive coach,” said Krueger. “I’m a coach who looks at the skills of my players and coaches them accordingly.”
You don’t have to look much further than the Oilers powerplay last season, which Krueger ran, for proof. The unit finished in the top 3 in the league even though the Oilers finished a dismal 29th overall.
With all of the young firepower up front, and even more so with the addition of Nail Yakupov, Krueger will get the chance to show just what he can do with one of the most exciting young offences in the league.
While the selection of Krueger himself is not a huge surprise, nor was it a shock that it wasn’t a bigger name within NHL circles, far from it, the timing is still somewhat curious. Krueger was always in the conversation for the position, and made it well known that he was very interested, but if they had a known quantity in Ralph Krueger, why the delay in naming him? It would stand to reason that they would have had their new man in place for the draft on June 22.
Perhaps it is the Oilers and Steve Tambellini doing their due diligence, not leaving any stone unturned, making sure all viable candidates were given their chance, but at times it felt like a tortuous wait for Tom Renney’s replacement.
What does stand to reason though, is that they named their coach prior to the start of free agency, and specifically one has to think, to be in place to make their pitch to pending college free agent Justin Schultz, who will be a hot commodity come July 1st.
Either way, the Oilers have their man, and it’s now time to focus on the continuing upgrades for the new season. Free agency is next and the Oilers are expected to be active in their pursuit of not just Schultz, but more help for the roster, specifically on defence.
Krueger will certainly have his work cut out for him, while the Oilers young talent and potential is impressive, the team has had recent finishes of 29th, 30th, & 30th respectively. The loyal Edmonton fans have been patient with the rebuild, but are starting to get revved up with the thoughts of what this young roster can become, and with three years of picking first overall they are ready (and expecting) success to come…..and soon.