Oilers Looking for Experience Behind the Bench

(Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE)
(Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE)

Without a normal training camp, it wasn’t easy for coaches to prepare their team for the lock-out shortened season. New coaches had an even more difficult time implementing their system (see Adam Oates in Washington). And for a rookie NHL coach like Ralph Krueger in Edmonton, the process was all the more arduous. But, with a season (sort of) under his belt, Krueger is ready to continue on with his coaching career. And we’re assuming that will be with the Oilers.

There has been no indication out of Oilers headquarters that Krueger’s job is in jeopardy. However, with such a young line-up, the possibility of an experienced assistant being brought may be on the horizon.

It would certainly make sense for the Oilers to have someone with a little more knowledge of NHL coaching on the staff, though it does bear the question of just how secure Krueger’s job actually is.

With the process clearly already underway, the Oilers are wasting no time in shoring up their coaching situation. Paul Maurice, who spent time behind the bench for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes, comes in with a ton of pro experience, though he also reportedly interviewed with Vancouver for their head coaching position. Maurice is best known for taking the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup final before eventually losing to the Detroit Red Wings. He most recently coached in Russia with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

Rick Bowness also comes in with a ton of NHL experience behind the bench, including stints as a head coach, associate coach and most recently an assistant role with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Oilers coaching wasn’t necessarily the problem this past season, and Krueger deserves another shot at winning with this team. But if the Oilers hire a veteran as his assistant, his leash may be a little short. A few years ago the team hired an experienced Tom Renney as an assistant coach and it wasn’t long until he found himself as the man in charge.

Whenever a new General Manger comes in, the head coach always comes into the spotlight because GM’s usually like to hire their own guy. There’s normally only one reason why a team would hold onto a coach for an extended period of time, and that’s if he’s winning. Krueger has got a lot of work to do.