On May 15, the Buffalo Sabres announced they had hired Ralph Krueger to be their next head coach. This news occurs following a coaching search that began when the team parted ways with Phil Housley.
Krueger comes to Buffalo with a wealth of coaching experience, with the majority taking place on the international stage. From 1998 through 2010, he was Switzerland’s national coach and was behind their bench for three Winter Olympics and 12 World Championships. He also coached Team Europe to the final of the World Cup of Hockey in 2016. Prior to coaching Switzerland, he was the coach of VEU Feldkirch in Austria for six-and-a-half seasons.
He also has NHL coaching experience. He was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers in 2010-11 and 2011-12 before being named head coach for the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season. The Oilers finished with a 19-22-7 record and a third-place finish in the Pacific Division before he was fired at season’s end.
In the news release announcing Krueger’s hiring, general manager Jason Botterill noted: “Throughout his career, Ralph has shown the ability to adapt to a variety of high-pressure environments while leading some of the world’s elite players…His strong communication skills, leadership and diverse background make him a uniquely qualified candidate to lead our team going forward.” (From ‘Sabres Hire Ralph Krueger as 19th Coach in Franchise History’ – Buffalo News – 05/14/2019)
Krueger is considered a coach who excels at being strategic and brings with him a culture of winning. During his one-year coaching stint with the Oilers, he also showed an ability to coach young players and got them to buy into his gameplan. That season’s team tied for seventh in power play percentage and ranked ninth in penalty kill success. By comparison, the 2018-19 Sabres finished 16th on the power play and 12th on the penalty kill. They too had quite a few young players on the roster.
Now that the Sabres have their coach, they’ll look toward the NHL Entry Draft held in Vancouver on June 21 and 22.