So it’s finally happened, the Edmonton Oilers have named their Head Coach and it’s a name we all know in Ralph Krueger. It took three months for the Oilers GM Steve Tambellini to decide that Krueger was the right man for the job, after talking to people like Marc Crawford, Jon Cooper and Todd Nelson among others. Krueger is now the 11th coach in Oilers history.
Tambellini says he feels Krueger, here under the Oilers brass’ noses for two years, is the right fit at the right time. He hired him for three more years. “His leadership ability along with his teaching ability, and his technical skills are elite,” said Tambellini, who admitted Krueger’s work on the power play, which went from 29th to third overall in the league, was a major consideration in his hire, too. On hockey’s world stage, Ralph exhibited his poise and experience on the bench to help the Swiss team overachieve in Turin. That shows Ralph’s type of leadership. You speak with people that have worked with Ralph and players that have been coached by him, they talk about leadership, clarity and motivation,” said General Manager Steve Tambellini. “He’s a person that they want to play for. He has a reputation that people will play for him and want to win for him. His teaching ability, obviously his technical skill is elite,” Tambellini said. “The leadership of this group is so important right now. Our young people need the right message; one that’s instructive, inspiring, motivating and I can’t think of a better person to do that than Ralph Krueger.”
“A winning culture grows out of a culture of excellence,” said Krueger. “We’re going to be extremely detail-focused. From the summer training that’s going on right now, we’ll communicate with the players as much as possible to support them. We want to be known as a hard-working team on and off the ice a very disciplined team. The winning will come as a by-product of that. Our natural ability will lead us to winning. The winning is a by-product, not a focus. The focus will be excellence; it will be our execution, our practices. You won’t come to a practice where you see us, in any way shape or form, compromising our quality. Every practice, on or off the ice, will be at the highest possible level and winning will naturally be a by-product of the time we put it in. I’m about creating processes that are positive,” Krueger said. “Anybody who’s worked with me knows that. But that doesn’t mean happy-go-lucky, hugging kind of positives. It means solutions are what we’re going to be all about and working toward those. It’s not about me, it’s about the group. I’ll pull out a whip if I need to communicate quickly with the players. Tough empathy is what I’m really about as a leader.”
Assistant coaches Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith, along with the rest of the staff will stay on under Krueger’s leadership. Twice in 2010-11 and three more times in this past season while Tom Renney sat out with a concussion, Krueger stepped in behind the Oilers’ bench. He earned his first win on Feb. 21, 2012 at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, shellacking the playoff-hunting Flames by a 6-1 score. In total to this point as a fill-in, he’s amassed a 2-5 coaching record.
I am still of mixed feelings about this, on one hand Krueger has shown success on the international level; on the other hand his admittedly limited NHL experience hasn’t been the most successful. However I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt as it were and do the same thing I am doing with Tambellini, I’m going to wait and see.