Rishaug: Krueger is 'such a good hire' for the Sabres

TSN's Ryan Rishaug joined Howard and Sal to talk about Ralph Krueger's time in Edmonton

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May 16, 2019 - 11:29 am

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The Buffalo Sabres officially made Ralph Krueger the team's 19th head coach in franchise history on Wednesday after five-and-a-half weeks of an extensive search.

Krueger may be seen as an out-of-the-box type of hire by the Sabres with his limited amount of experience coaching at the National Hockey League level, but his vast amount of coaching experience in hockey was exactly what general manager Jason Botterill was looking for.

The only experience Krueger had as a head coach in the NHL was during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season with the Edmonton Oilers. In 48 games, the Oilers ended up going 19-22-7 with 45 points, but ended up missing the playoffs by 10 points. Edmonton had found themselves in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 12 games remaining in the season, however the team went on to lose the next nine of 10 games, and ended up falling well out of a playoff spot. That ended up getting Krueger fired by general manager Craig MacTavish and being replaced with Dallas Eakins.

However, Krueger has plenty of experience coaching at the international level, and coaching some NHL players with the Swiss national team, as well as Team Europe for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Krueger had spent the last five years away from hockey while he served as the chairman of the Southampton Football Club in the English Premier League, but he always kept close tabs on the game he grew up loving.

TSN's Oilers correspondent Ryan Rishaug got the chance to cover Krueger's tenure in Edmonton, and joined the Howard and Jeremy Show on Wednesday to bring some insight on the Sabres' new head coach.

Here is some of what Rishaug had to say:

 

Rishaug on Krueger's persona as a coach:

"He's a player-friendly coach, he's a communicator. He's an open door guy who he's not just the way he wants something done and that's the end of it. I think he understands that you need to explain things a little more for today's athletes. From a standpoint of being player-friendly and communicating, I think he did a really good job. He did a nice job on locking some guys who under other coaches didn't thrive nearly as much. Take a look at Nail Yakupov's statistics under Ralph Krueger; those were the best statistics of his career. He has a nice touch with certain individuals and certain players, and I think players respond really well to him."

"One of the things we tend to label people with is they make a mistake, and that's just who they are and they're never going to be able to change, who they will always be. Ralph Krueger is one of the most cerebral individuals that I've ever dealt with in hockey. He is smart. He's not arrogant smart, not cocky smart, he's just really smart. I can guarantee you that [his experience in Edmonton] is something Ralph Krueger will have learned from, and that he will be able to look himself in the mirror, self evaluate and adjust moving forward. He is not somebody that is so stubborn not to be able to adjust and learn."

 

Rishaug on his departure from the Oilers:

"Craig MacTavish was wooed by Dallas Eakins, and he made a mistake. He absolutely made a mistake in letting Ralph Krueger go and hiring Dallas Eakins. Dallas wasn't ready yet, Ralph deserved more of an opportunity than he got, but what armed [MacTavish] with the ability to do that was that awful losing streak they went on that cost them the playoffs."

 

Rishaug on the Sabres' decision to hire Krueger:

"I think this is a good hire. I really think this is a good hire. I think for the way [the Sabres are] set up, for the players on that team, for a player like [Jack] Eichel, I think Ralph Krueger is going to be tonic for a player like Eichel."

"I believe today's athlete needs a coach with the ability to communicate, and get through to the player and be willing to explain things. That's why I think that this is such a good hire. The tactics and all those other things, you can work with your staff and it can be a work and progress, but I think he's going to be able to unlock players. That's what's needed in Buffalo."

 

You can listen to the entire interview below:

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