IN THE KNOW: RALPH IN RUNNING

Robin Brownlee
May 24 2012 10:12AM

If you hang around this game long enough and learn to pay attention, it doesn't take a vast intellect to separate the guessers and coat-tail riders in the media mob from those who are actually in the know.

So, when 630 CHED radio color man Bob Stauffer, who has telegraphed more moves by the Edmonton Oilers than anybody else I can think of over the past three years or so, starts dropping hints about what he thinks should or will happen, I listen – even when what he says conflicts with my take on things.

While that's not a popular stance with people who think Stauffer somehow "sold out" by leaving his popular Inside Sports drive-time show at TEAM 1260 for his gig with the Oilers, anybody who is actually keeping score regarding who gets the story right most often knows how connected he is.

Today, Stauffer is hinting associate coach Ralph Krueger should be or is a strong candidate to take over from Tom Renney as head coach. While I'm of the mind Brent Sutter is and should be the leading candidate for the job – my take is based on circumstance and gut-feel rather than inside information – Bombastic Bob has my attention.

He should have yours, too.

WHAT HE SAYS

Stauffer has been busy on his Twitter account today, offering up the following tidbits about the coaching situation in two separate but connected Tweets:

"The Oilers best players are drafted and developed. Steve Tambellini has hired 2 straight experienced NHL Coaches. Maybe need to look at an . . . Internal coach that the organization has developed, who understands the team and the players. Like, say, Ralph Kreuger."

Stauffer blew Krueger's name in the Tweet – I can attest that he talks better than he spells because I used to edit his copy when he was writing a column at The Sun (I'm guessing the bosses at the tabloid that fired me in 2007 didn't know that) – but the message is what matters.

If Stauffer suggests Krueger is worth looking at, then chances are GM Steve Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe are already looking at him (Jim Matheson at The Journal has long been a master of framing what he already knows as a "suggestion" for decades). That look will likely amount to more than lip service and a courtesy call for Krueger.

TAKE IT TO THE BANK

While I don't perceive Krueger as a leading candidate, Stauffer knows infinitely more about his relationships with the players, his hockey IQ and how he is regarded by Lowe and the rest of Oiler management than I do here and now because he's around the team year-round, as I used to be.

It's also worth noting that while Lowe and Tambellini were over at the World Championships keeping tabs on Team Canada and Sutter's work behind the bench – a stint I and others have assumed is a pre-cursor to him being named as Renney's replacement -- Krueger was there, too.

The bottom line: while I see Sutter as the leading candidate, you can bet Krueger is on the short list and in the running and that he'll get more serious consideration than most of us thought he would. If Krueger doesn't get the job outright, I can see a scenario where he stays on as an associate in the kind of role Renney had when Pat Quinn was hired.

My guess is the hangers-on and coat-tail riders in town will be parroting the "Krueger is a serious contender" angle and spinning the idea as their own -- without attribution -- soon enough.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Pizzy
May 24 2012, 10:22AM
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I still prefer to listen to Stauffer on 630 Ched than the team 1260 during my noon hour. Mainley due to the fact that I do think he is connected more than his counterparts.

Also, I hope they get the coach in place pretty quick as it is much more enjoyable thinking about who we will draft and who we will pick up on July FIST! vs. who will be the next coach of the Oilers! My guess is when it is all said and done, it will be Sutter. Just like it will be Yakupov.

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#2 freeze
May 24 2012, 10:22AM
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Would Krueger really be all that different from Renney?

I hope the coach for next year's team employs a forecheck with more consistency and tenacity. I like what NJ has done with their forecheck in the playoffs.

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#3 The Towel Boy
May 24 2012, 10:25AM
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He did have a pretty solid record as part time coach this past seas...wait...no...he didn't.

Maybe it's just me, but I want new blood behind the bench - a fresh outlook.

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#4 oilbaron
May 24 2012, 10:26AM
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Both men are good coaches. Ive been heaqring and reading allot about who should be the next coach because of each's respective resume's and records but what about going on the style of play that they like to run with? They way that this team has been built with the "potential" high end offense and lack of size at forward i think it would be best to hire a coach that will fit in with the group we have. If we hire a coach who likes to dump the puck in the corner and cycle it downlow all game than i think were going to be getting into trouble. I believe the coach that we should hire, experienced or not, should teach and apply a puck position game. Now, what style of play does sutter go with? from what ive seen from his time in New Jersey and Calgary he's more of a banger style of coach, is this because of the talent he had on the team or lack of? Your a smarter man than i Mr.Brownlee so maybe you could elaborate for me.

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#5 A-Mc
May 24 2012, 10:27AM
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I would be very pleased with Ralph as Head Coach. I really liked the way he addressed the media and fans while he was holding everything together when Tom was concussed. I like the way he speaks of what the team does right, and what they do wrong. His words felt genuine to me, and i really appreciated that.

I'm excited to hear that there is a chance he could land the Head Coaching position.

Good Luck Ralph!

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#6 David S
May 24 2012, 10:28AM
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I only know about Krueger from his limited pressers this year, but he seems like a pretty decent guy who knows his stuff. Made the Swiss team respectable too if I recall and that's no small feat.

My only concern would be his close relationship (or the perception of such) with Tom Renney. At the exit interview Renney suggested the "rebuild" could take a bit longer than both fans and Oilers management might think - and maybe that's at least part of the reason the team didn't want to re-sign him. He told them something they didn't want to hear in his go-forward plan. Would Ralph be painted with the same brush?

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#7 Archaeologuy
May 24 2012, 10:34AM
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If Kreuger gets hired then he better fire his assistants and replace them with incompetent goons. There seems to be a trend recently of axing the guy in charge and promoting his assistant.

Probably best for Krueger to make the next guy in charge a complete idiot, just to keep that pattern from repeating.

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#8 Ken
May 24 2012, 10:35AM
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Kevin Lowe's template for success is from the glory days.

As such, the Oilers are leaning towards a coach that has an offensive rather than a banger mindset.

Winning is easy, just score more goals than the other team.

Ken

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#9 Millertime
May 24 2012, 10:36AM
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Based on Oilchange, Renny never came across as a great leader. He likely has a lot of technical ability, but some intangible leadership qualities seemed lacking. Kreuger on the other hand seemed to have a presence about him that Renny did not. Based on what I've seen, Kreuger would be a better option.

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#10 Oiler Country
May 24 2012, 10:39AM
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It's going to be an interesting pick, but didn't Gregor say that the next coach with the Oilers will have NHL coaching experience? This is probably Tamby's last crack at hiring a coach for this team and after two failed attempts on hiring a coach, this one has got to count. You think Tamby would risk it all on Kreuger? I'm not thinking so. Tambellini needs success now and I don't think he'll roll the dice on Kreuger. At least I wouldn't if my NHL job was riding on it.

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#11 Archaeologuy
May 24 2012, 10:39AM
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Oilers: We Need a New Direction, a new Voice to lead us in the next phase of the Rebuild!

Fans: Who?

Oilers: The guy that's been there every day for the past year!

Fans: ????

Oilers: Also we will have New Captain!

Fans: Oh wow, Really?!

Oilers: Shawn Horcoff will fill that role

Fans: I dont think that word means what you think it means...

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#13 Dman09
May 24 2012, 10:57AM
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Brownlee,

Bob stated that it is likely they will look internally for the next coach and only used Krueger as an example. What do you think the likelyhood of say Nelson getting that head coach job would be? And on a bit of a side note in a coaching hierarchy how would an assitant coach in the NHL compare to a head coach in the AHL?

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correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Krueger already the Oilers Associate Coach? if thats the case I see him heading to Europe to be a HC if he doesnt get the job here not be an Associate Coach again under a different HC

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#15 Mitch
May 24 2012, 10:58AM
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If Bob mentions something, it should be noticed and most times it happens.

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#16 Talbot17
May 24 2012, 10:59AM
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I always got a sense that Kreuger kept a lot of his ways of doing things in the dark while Renney had the reins, his player development has paid dividends too. Going internal may not be the best fit to get the veterans going because its a familiar voice but for player development it seems to have been working. I'd put Kreuger ahead of Nelson but I still think Sutter is the lead candidate still.

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#17 oilers2k12
May 24 2012, 11:07AM
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Draft Yakupov!

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#18 Landen Vaadeland
May 24 2012, 11:20AM
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I thought there was a tidbit here recently about Krueger taking a head coaching job in Europe? No truth to that one, I guess. Regardless, I don't think he would be a wise choice moving forward. As an earlier poster mentioned, Tambellini is on the hot seat and risking it all on Krueger seems like a huge gamble. I personally am curious to see what Sutter could do as a head coach in Edmonton. When he coached the Rebels, I always thought he would be a good fit for the Oilers. Maybe Stauffer is just throwing out a red herring since the general consensus seems to be that Sutter will get the job.

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#19 David S
May 24 2012, 11:31AM
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Holy cow! Bob looks like he could crush Tambellini's head with one hand - like a grape.

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#20 vetinari
May 24 2012, 11:52AM
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My guess is that the new coach will want to keep around at least one of the current assistant coaches for contuity and to ease the transition for both the players and the new coach.

These guys know the dynamics of the dressing room, the history of the players and the politics between them ("hey-- never sit Penner next to one of our stars during a team breakfast on the road-- if he doesn't injure the guy with a vicious elbow to the head over the last pancake, he'll throw his back out looking for syrup!" Hey, I kid... way to go Penner on that overtime goal...)

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#21 Duke
May 24 2012, 11:54AM
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I recall having a conversation with a friend during the time this year that Renney was out with his concussion, and Krueger was running the team. The jest of it was that the Oilers seemed to have a little more jump, or something, during that period of time. Didn't Gags 8 point night come during that period of time? (not to suggest Krueger was responsible for that)

Maybe it was a different face and voice in front of the team, maybe it was coincidence, but the team to my eyes did seem to respond to Ralph leading the way, and drop off again somewhat when Renney returned.

Perhaps Lowetide, Willis or Staples or some other stats junkie could look into that angle

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#22 longbottom/P.Biglow
May 24 2012, 11:54AM
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I tend to agree with you here. Sutter did a masterfull job with the Rebels and internationally with the kids. I admit I do not know much about Krueger and he may get a long look and if he does in fact want a HC job here in the NHL it may suit him to do another term as assoiate coach to build on his NHL resume.

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#23 D
May 24 2012, 11:55AM
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Ralph Krueger would be a good hire for head coach.

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#24 The Soup Fascist
May 24 2012, 11:56AM
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Wonder if Millhouse has a candidate? Chief Wiggum, perhaps? Krusty?

Best wishes to TR. Sounds like he will resurface in St. Louis, working with the Big Man. I didn't agree with everything he did on the bench (which I am sure kept him up nights) - but unquestionably a class act.

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#25 I'm a Scientist!
May 24 2012, 11:58AM
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On May 17th Bob also tweeted:

A lot of talk about MacTavish or B. Sutter as Oilers Head Coach. Don't be surprised if Associate Coach Ralph Kreuger merits consideration

Hmmm... seems to really be pumping his tires.

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#26 db7db7db7
May 24 2012, 12:07PM
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I am really hoping they go with Mark Crawford.

None of the other coaches actually know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup!!!!!!

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#27 Tyler
May 24 2012, 12:25PM
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While that's not a popular stance with people who think Stauffer somehow "sold out" by leaving his popular Inside Sports drive-time show at TEAM 1260 for his gig with the Oilers, anybody who is actually keeping score regarding who gets the story right most often knows how connected he is.

No shame in selling out, which he obviously has ("Let's talk to Terry Paranych about whether or not this real estate development is good") but nothing wrong with pointing out when he now has zero credibility either.

That said, on factual stuff, people are stupid if they don't pay attention.

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#28 Tler
May 24 2012, 12:30PM
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Also, Robin - you may have noticed that Stauffer keeps citing this bloody game with Calgary ("The best game the Oilers played all year") as evidence that Krueger would be great for the job. This is utterly insane.

Any sense of whether that's him repeating the Oilers' thinking? If so, good lord.

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#29 Walter Sobchak
May 24 2012, 12:42PM
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Good read Brownlee.

I could be wrong here but wasn't Krueger responsible for the PP and PK?

The only real significant gains seen by the Oilers in the last few years; not including the development of the kids of course which I'm sure he had a hand in as well.

I still think Mr.Personality will get the job though.

Food for thought anyways, good article RB.

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#30 Ducey
May 24 2012, 12:49PM
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Robin, if you were listening maybe 10 days ago Lowe went on at length about RK's work with the Swiss. He made is sound like he singlehandedly advanced the program there from nothing to the point where they are a team that Canada can only beat by a goal.

He said that Ralph could have chosen any style to follow but developed a defensive system with an aggressive forecheck and and emphasis on playing the body.

I would love it if they chose Krueger. The Oilers need a sound defensive system. I never saw this under Renney. It would help cover the holes in their defence and allow them to counter attack and use their speed and skill. An emphasis on taking the body would be welcome after so many no hitters under Renney.

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#32 Jason Gregor
May 24 2012, 12:55PM
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If the new coach doesn't get to hand pick his assistants, then the organization isn't making progress.

And I know Bob is connected, but for the past few years he was also frequently questioning Krueger's contributions on the staff.

I'm not sure how Krueger is an upgrade over Renney. Unless Krueger has a hard ass side we didn't see, because he was associate coach then I don't see much of a difference.

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#34 OIL4LIFE
May 24 2012, 01:05PM
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If you look at what Krueger did with the Swiss national team, and the short stint as the head coach last season. It would be hard not to at least consider him for the job.

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#36 etownman
May 24 2012, 01:16PM
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Jason, I don't think Bob is promoting Ralph as his choice for head coach but I think it's a case of him passing on what he's hearing from his sources!

I would Sutter as the new bench boss! His record in NJ was excellent & even though he missed the playoffs in Calgary he still coached a so-so team to a winning record every year!

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#37 bumblebpete
May 24 2012, 01:26PM
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A-Mc wrote:

I would be very pleased with Ralph as Head Coach. I really liked the way he addressed the media and fans while he was holding everything together when Tom was concussed. I like the way he speaks of what the team does right, and what they do wrong. His words felt genuine to me, and i really appreciated that.

I'm excited to hear that there is a chance he could land the Head Coaching position.

Good Luck Ralph!

I totally agree!!

I would like to see Krueger hired as the next Head Coach of the Oilers.

The first 2 games he coached during Renney's absence were so-so, but the next game he made his own lines up and the team did very well.

He would be better suited for this team than Sutter would.

Yes, good luck, Ralph.

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#38 db7db7db7
May 24 2012, 02:00PM
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db7db7db7 wrote:

I am really hoping they go with Mark Crawford.

None of the other coaches actually know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup!!!!!!

Actually, I'll add Bob Hartley (although he is under contract in Switzerland) to this list.

My top choices besides Scotty Bowman: 1. Crawford 2. Hartley 3. Sutter 4. Krueger 5. Nelson

Either way, I hope Rocky Thompson is brought in as Associate coach.

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#39 book¡e
May 24 2012, 02:32PM
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I ran some quick stats to see how current coaches with different levels of experience have faired since they were hired by their latest team. So, the following is a list of the points percentage (% of points obtained vs available) of coaches with their first team, second team, third team, and fourth team. This only takes into account their record since being hired on their latest team. It only includes coaches with at least one full season on their latest team.

While it kind of suggests that coaches with experience on more than one team do a bit better, I would suggest this is largely the fact that the worst coaches never get a second chance.

Given the variance, I would think that you are not much better off hiring someone who has coached in the NHL before over someone who has not. Your decision should be based upon who you think is the best coach.

Also, you should not hire someone who has been fired 3 times!! (Unless it is Ken Hitchcock who has a .703 average in 63 games with the Blues).

First team

0.657

0.655

0.651

0.537

0.501

0.494

0.543

0.544

0.48

0.544

0.562

0.51

0.573

0.57

0.439

0.561

Second Team

0.616

0.672

0.595

0.512

0.634

0.622

Third Team

0.634

0.617

0.415

0.603

Fourth team

0.492

0.516

0.553

So the overall averages are as follows

Coaches with their first teams – 0.551

Coaches with their second team – 0.608

Coaches with their third team – 0.567

Coaches with their fourth team –0.520

Note – I used averages of averages instead of raw numbers which would create some bias in the data as a coach with multiple seasons would be treated the same as a coach with a single full season. However, I don't think it impacts the overall trends much

I apologise for not including the names of coaches - I was in a bit of a rush and this was quicker.

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#40 bmac
May 24 2012, 02:59PM
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I once saw Bob in the drive-in at Taco Bell.

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#41 pezman
May 24 2012, 03:40PM
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Hey Robin: I used to coach junior high basketball. We ran 5 different offences and five different defences with young teenagers. Why do NHL coaches coach only one way? Get a guy who will let the first two lines play Taylor Hall----balls-to the-wall hockey. Have the 3d and 4th lines play dump and chase and cycle hockey. Lines 1 and 2 look after the pp. Lines 3 and 4 look after the pk. Doesn't sound too difficult to me.

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#42 Harlie
May 24 2012, 03:42PM
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Krueger = Red Herring

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#43 vetinari
May 24 2012, 03:43PM
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Let's get right down to the main issue confronting OilerNation: how can we sell ad space for sponsor's names on our future coach's shirt collars?

I had to do a double take with Ralph's photos to see that it wasn't a copyright disclaimer on the photo.

Can we get "Rexall" on one side and "Tylenol" on the other? What about "Love" / "Hate"? Or "Send Help" and "Get me a defenceman"?

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#44 Harlie
May 24 2012, 03:44PM
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bmac wrote:

I once saw Bob in the drive-in at Taco Bell.

Are you sure it wasn't Tom Cruise?

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#45 george99
May 24 2012, 04:29PM
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Do you get the feeling that Tambo makes it up as he goes along? He is not a confident man and therefore I'm not sold at all that the new coach - any new coach - is the right man if Tambo will be choosing. Sorry - had to say it. Katz would NOT renew his contract and bring in both a new GM and coach.

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#46 TwoSkidoos
May 24 2012, 04:35PM
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Sutter Schmutter.

I'm of the belief that anyone can coach any team Canada at any level and get results.

Not only is Sutter a run of the mill coach, he's a Sutter.

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#47 maverick
May 24 2012, 04:36PM
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What I am curious about is;

Will Kelly Buchberger be an assistant coach again with the Oilers? He has survived 3 head coaches, MacT, Quinn, and Renney. If the Buchberger hangs on then we know that the new coach didn't have a hand in picking his own assistants.

If it means we get Sutter and draft either Yakupov or Galchenyuk then I am in with hiring Sutter.

If we draft Murray (he's no Doughty, Pronger or a #1 defenseman) and hiring Sutter and keep Buchberger, then this management group is nuts!!

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#48 DieHard
May 24 2012, 04:43PM
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Ralph would bring continuity which is something the young guns need. I don't think Ralph would have a problem benching or not dressing vets who don't perform to his liking. I would not mind him at the helm at all. I think he brings a different perspective that an "experienced NHL" coach would bring. We're still in the first half of the re-build (later stages) so this could be good. If it doesn't work out then OK, new GM and coach in a few years.

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#49 Oilcruzer
May 24 2012, 04:49PM
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Krueger = "Renney - The Sequel". Not that that is bad. Prefer a no nonsense guy tho who isn't a dinosaur.

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#50 book¡e
May 24 2012, 05:06PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Krueger = "Renney - The Sequel". Not that that is bad. Prefer a no nonsense guy tho who isn't a dinosaur.

What do you know about Krueger? Anything? Or are you just talking out of your proverbial ass?

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