Maurice: 'This is the right time' for Krueger to be in the NHL

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice had plenty to say about the new Sabres head coach on Tuesday

Howard & Jeremy | Weekdays 6a-10a
May 21, 2019 - 10:01 am

Photo: Dan Hamilton - USA TODAY Sports

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It has been nearly a week since the Buffalo Sabres officially announced Ralph Krueger as the 19th head coach in franchise history.

Krueger has a long history of coaching in the game of hockey, both at an international level and at the NHL level. He led his Austrian team to five consecutive championships between 1991 and 1998, then took over the Swiss national team and built that program into a consistent contender year-in and year-out.

In 2010, Krueger officially joined the Edmonton Oilers' coaching staff as an associate coach before taking over head coaching duties in 2012. However, after a 19-22-7 record in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, Krueger was let go to make way for Dallas Eakins in Edmonton.

Following his time in Edmonton, Krueger went on to become the chairman of the Southampton Football Club in the English Premier League. However, his connections to the game of hockey were never lost.

In 2016, Krueger was named as the head coach of Team Europe for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, where his team ended up finishing as the surprise runner up to Team Canada in the tournament. One of the assistant coaches on his staff was Paul Maurice, who is currently the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets.

Maurice took the time on Tuesday to join the Howard and Jeremy Show on WGR to talk about his experience with Krueger on the Team Europe coaching staff, as well as what he may bring to the table as head coach of the Sabres.

Here is some of what Maurice had to say:

 

Maurice on Krueger's coaching style:

"When you think of where he's come from, he built the Swiss program, that's a complete underdog country at the time he took over [in 1998]. He's really technically sound, he's learned how to beat better teams with the teams that he's had. That's the hockey part of it. I thought he did a really good job in Edmonton. This is just kind of the coach's fraternity looking at a team that was really, really young. They still had a lot of room to grow, but it was going to take time and they were a little bit more impatient there."

 

Maurice on Krueger's drive as a head coach:

"He made such an impression on not just the players, but the equipment guys, the medical guys, his staff, the management, media I think as well. Everybody that was around him; he just gives off this incredible positive energy. It starts at about [5 a.m.] and doesn't end until about midnight. He just goes all day long. He's just a wired, driven kind of guy, and that's why he's had the life experiences that he's had because his switch is always on."

 

Maurice on how Krueger handles a locker room full of hockey players:

"In his time between the Swiss team and in Edmonton, he's doing leadership consulting and leadership forums, and speaking in front of large rooms. He has the experience of doing that, and hockey players can be tough. If you want to learn how to public speak, do it in front of a room full of hockey players because you lose those guys real fast. I think he's a really bright guy."

"Eloquent is the right word in a certain room for him when he can stand in front of a hockey room and hold out his balls. That was one of the things where you never get the chance to do that as a head coach. When you go into these tournaments, I got the chance to stand in the corner of the room and watch the players' eyes, and try to learn from him and how he stands, how he uses his voice; all those things that come natural to him. It's really, really important because there are times during the year you need to coach to be able to hold the room; to draw their attention, to get their attention. He can do that for sure."

 

Maurice on Krueger's decision to return to coach in the NHL:

"This is the right time for his personality to be in the game. He's a real connector. When I first [coached] about 25 years ago, 1995, the players almost took care of themselves. There were no cell phones, there was no Twitter, there were no posses... They got that answer in the locker room and the players took care of themselves like that. Now it's not. Now, you have 22 individual corporations in the room and they all need to be handled specifically and almost daily, at times. Not every player is like that, but they need a lot more 1-on-1 interaction from somebody. Ralph can do that."

 

Maurice on Krueger's demeanor:

"The nice part about a guy like Ralph is he's got experience. He's not coming in and trying to prove to the players that he knows the game, so he's going to give them a 1,000 rules on how to play because he's that smart. You don't need that many. That would be something that I personally took from Ralph, in terms of how he prepared his World Cup team."

 

Maurice on the Sabres' hire of Krueger:

"There's a certain confidence I think as a [head coach] that you have to have. This guy has had a lot of experience. I know he hasn't been in the NHL, but he has a tremendous amount of hockey and people experience. I think he's a great hire. Pete DeBoer is probably my best friend coaching for San Jose, so I'm pulling for him. After that, I think easily Ralph Krueger would be the one guy I'm cheering for in the NHL. I think he's just great for the league. He's a great guy to have in Buffalo. It's kind of like a Winnipeg market, you can really attach himself to it, have a good family life and really enjoy the people and the team. I think they're going to be really happy. I think it's great for Buffalo."

 

You can listen to the entire interview below:

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