Buffalo Sabres Head Coach Ralph Krueger’s Return to Edmonton | Pregame
- As a hockey coach Ralph Krueger is like the iconic sheriff Andy Taylor from Mayberry on the old Andy Griffith TV show — likeable, straight-shooter, also able to get the town folk to listen to what he says.
- You have to look long and hard to find any player who’s had trouble with Krueger.
- In his coaching days in Germany, with the Swiss national team, certainly here with Edmonton Oilers during that 2012-2013 lockout season when they came close to the playoffs, the kids not only loved him but played hard and well for him.
- It’s much the same story in Buffalo now.
“Every time I run into an Oiler … Taylor Hall a few days ago against New Jersey, or Jeff Petry (Montreal) or Jordan Eberle (Islanders), or if I see Sam Gagner and Nuge (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) (Sunday) at the rink, there’s always hugs and smiles and laughing,” said the Sabres coach.
- We went through a pretty intense time together here and that connection is still extremely strong.”
- You don’t always find a symbiotic relationship between player and coach but Krueger has always seemed more like an all-knowing, all-caring dad.
“Super positive guy but he’ll hold you accountable. He’s a good teacher, obviously, a very intelligent guy. Shows that when goes to Europe and manages a soccer team. He just knows sports. I really enjoyed my time with Ralph,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “He’s obviously young at heart. How old is he? He’s 60? I would have thought he’s younger than that because of his attitude, such an upbeat guy. We had a bit of a good run that year (2013-2014). He definitely held us in the fight until the end.”
“One hundred percent I needed the Oiler experience to prove I could be a head coach in the National Hockey League,” said Krueger, who was Tom Renney’s right-hand man for two years, then moved up when Renney wasn’t rehired by then GM Steve Tambellini. “I’m so grateful to the organization for bringing me into the fold and I think back with nothing but pleasure those three years in Edmonton. Absolutely zero bitterness. I dealt with it (being let go by Craig MacTavish) pretty positively when it happened.”
- Draisaitl heaped praise on Kreuger the day before their first NHL meeting.
“I only had a short time with him at the World Cup but he’s a great communicator,” said the NHL’s leading scorer. “He’s someone you want to play for. At the time I wasn’t at the level I am now. I was a work in progress and I learned a lot from Ralph and the players I was around. It was such a great experince.
“Ralph has that positive mentality and it’s really calming to a lot of players and team. Nothing but good things to say about Ralph.”
- Krueger is a people person, but was more involved with the business end of things with his soccer club.
Sources & Credits: Jim Matheson, Edmonton Journal