Smyth: Krueger will do 'an excellent job' with the Sabres

Former Oilers forward Ryan Smyth joined Howard and Jeremy to talk about his former head coach

Howard & Jeremy | Weekdays 6a-10a
May 22, 2019 - 12:06 pm

Photo: Dale MacMillan - Getty Images


Although Ralph Krueger's one and only NHL head coaching stint was short, he was able to earn the respect of many of those he worked with.

Krueger became the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers just before the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, and lasted just 48 games before he was fired to be replaced by Dallas Eakins. In that shortened season, Krueger led his team to a 19-22-7 record with 45 points, and were in a playoff spot heading into the final stretch of the season. However, the Oilers went on to lose nine of 10 games late, and ended up falling out of the playoff picture. However, there has been plenty of thought that the Oilers' move to fire Krueger at the time they did was a mistake.

Last week, the Buffalo Sabres made Krueger the 19th head coach in franchise history. Sabres general manager Jason Botterill is hoping that Krueger can help turn things around in Buffalo after a pair of dismal seasons under the leadership of Phil Housley.

Ryan Smyth was one of the longest-tenured players to ever wear an Oilers jersey in franchise history. He ended up playing in 1,270 career games in the NHL with the Oilers, New York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings, but 971 of those games were spent in Edmonton. He ended up returning to Edmonton for the final three years of his career, where Krueger served as an associate coach in his first season back before becoming the head coach the next season.

Smyth took the time on Wednesday to join the Howard and Jeremy Show on WGR to talk about Krueger and his time as the head coach in Edmonton.

Here is some of what he had to say:


Smyth on the type of person Krueger is:

"Eager, excited, good hockey IQ, and a very good attention to detail person. It was unfortunate with how things fell in Edmonton for his sake. Obviously it was the lockout year, but he did a good job with what he was given there. He's a great person, a great communicator, and he just loves the players."


Smyth on how Krueger coached the Oilers in the 2012-13 season:

"I think it was 48 games that year with the lockout, and he was trying to get the most out of the players in that short span. He started to get it towards the end, and all of the sudden things went sideways with other coaches and the change that happened. [He was] a guy that really had a good read on players. I don't want to use the 'superstar' thing, but he had a great read on those kids, and he had a good read on the third and fourth line [players]. I think he's going to do an excellent job with Buffalo. Give him a little bit of time and see how he rolls from that side of things."


Smyth on the respect that Krueger shows his players:

"You want to earn the respect of your teammates, your coaches and your whole organization. When a guy respects you back and gives you the time and the effort that I believe that Ralph does in perspective of listening to where you're coming from and it's having that relationship to develop, you want to play for your coach. You dive in a little deeper not only for your teammates, but also for your coaching staff because they care about you. I see that in Ralph, and the communication level that he has is very impressive in the short time that I had with him."


Smyth on Krueger's effect on his players:

"It starts within the personality that he is. He likes to keep himself in great shape, so he takes care of his body. That's a trickle effect on the person that he is to other people. When you have a good attitude and energy that he does, that will do nothing but help your organization. Yes, it's a game of mistakes and the least amount of mistakes usually wins hockey games, but attitude is everything."


Smyth on Krueger's ability to game plan for other teams:

"Not only does he have a pinpoint read on players, but he has that Xs and Os ability to read the different teams that are coming in. That is huge in today's game because with video, everything is magnified to another level. He has that ability."


Smyth on how Krueger's second NHL coaching will be different:

"I think now that Ralph has a little bit more credibility behind him after he's established himself, not only with the Oilers organization but other organizations around, he did the European side of things with the World Cup, to me, he's got that credibility now and I think he's going to gain and demand respect in his position and deliver as best as he can. He's going to get the respect from the players so he can put the best product on the ice for the fans."


You can listen to the entire interview below:

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