Is Ralph Krueger the right choice for the Oilers?

Jason Strudwick
May 25 2012 08:21AM

So the quest begins!!!

Now that it is clear the Oilers are in search of a new head coach everyone in Edmonton, including my grandmother, has an opinion on who should take over. This is a big decision for the team and will most likely take time.

The usual suspects are being thrown around like Sutter, Crawford, Hartley and Maurice. There are the new kids on the block like Oiler farm team coach Todd Nelson, Norfolk admiral coach John Cooper or Toronto Marlie head coach Dallas Eakins. Then there is Ralph Krueger.

For me, Ralph Krueger is the wild card in this process. Could he become the next head coach?

Before he came to the Oilers I knew who he was but didn't know anything else about him. The year I spent playing under him I was really impressed. Right away I noticed how much hockey knowledge and people handling skills he possessed.

His hockey background is unique when compared to most NHL coaches. He has coached a lot in Europe where for the most part practices are more skill focused then team system driven. This is partly due to less games and more practice time but I believe it is also a philosophical difference between European and North American hockey.

When most coaches go to the board during a practice to set up a drill after 5 seconds I would recognize the drill and be able to do it no problem. But when Ralph would set up a drill for the team to do, as a player it was very important to pay close attention. They were very unique drills that often involved five or more passes to various players on the ice. I loved it! It engaged your mind and forced you to focus in practice which at times is hard to do over the course of the season. It also kept practice fresh and the players on their toes.

Does that skill mean he is meant to be an NHL head coach?

Not all by itself but add in his ability to manage people and it is a good start. Managing the dressing room, personalities and egos is now a big part of an NHL coaches responsibilities. Finding a way to push players buttons is a skill not all have coaches have but one I think Ralph just might.

He is a well known motivational speaker and quite possibly the most positive person I have ever been around. Maybe this team needs a coach that will inspire them to be better individuals both off and on the ice.

He is neither a coach that has been around the block a few times or a young coach working his way up. He is in the middle. If you feel the Oilers are in the middle of this rebuild maybe he is the right choice.

Where have you gone button fly jean?

This move away from button fly jeans to zipper has been hard on me. I am used to the routine of doing up the buttons and then being all set. Now with zippers I do up the button and then leave the fly down. I hear 'XYZ' all the time!!

It must be a lot easier for guys like Brownlee and Gregor, their pants just have drawstrings.

Previously by Jason Strudwick

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 Robin Brownlee
May 25 2012, 08:34AM
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Drawstrings? What a knucklehead.

Velcro is the way to go.

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#2 OIL4LIFE
May 25 2012, 08:28AM
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Sounds like your endorsing Kruger for the job. Just one more reason for me to back him as well. I vote Kruger for head coach. Strudwick for associate coach.

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#3 Dman09
May 25 2012, 09:19AM
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Ryan wrote:

there shouldn't even be a question who our next coach should be....WAYNE GRETZKY and he could wear his old jersey

Well personally if he's coming back I think he should be on the ice with hall or eberle. After three damn near dead last finishes its not like he could possibly make the team worse.

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#4 book¡e
May 25 2012, 09:35AM
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I know that we can read too much into statements that may be meant to simply be a casual comment, but what does this mean " Maybe this team needs a coach that will inspire them to be better individuals both off and on the ice."

I, for one, take this to mean that Shawn Horcoff has been introducing Hall and Eberle to his cocaine and hooker habit and that there is a split in the dressing room between that group and the the Smyth-RNH meth and human trafficking group.

I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure that this claim can be directly attributable to Jason Strudwick.

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#5 geoilersgist
May 25 2012, 08:24AM
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For Its Steve Tambellini making the decisions so I'm scared.

I think I would be alright with Krueger as the new head coach

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#6 Quicksilver ballet
May 25 2012, 09:56AM
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This move comes a full yr too soon. Fortunately the on ice talent can mask deficiences in the coaching department. Hopefully the Oilers can continue to add impact players and overcome this.

The next coach will be gone before the Oilers are competitive again. Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill. Tambo gets the axe next summer and the Oilers will, yet again have to start from scratch in the coaching department. They only have themselves to blame.

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#7 Joan
May 25 2012, 01:43PM
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I vote for Struds for associate coach...PLEASE OILERS. Do something RIGHT !!!!

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#8 Oilers4ever
May 25 2012, 08:21PM
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Reports are that some of the players actually liked Ralph better than Renney.. if that's true, and based on what Struds is saying, I could support Krueger. I would be okay with Sutter as well. He's well geared towards coaching kids.

I agree on Crawford... the cup he won was with a talent laden veteran club in Colorado. Totally different environment.

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#9 Biowolf
May 26 2012, 10:51PM
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What better endorsement than from a player who played for him. Krugs is the man.

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#10 aberams2k12
May 25 2012, 08:44AM
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I personally think the Oilers should hire Bob Hartley as their next head coach..a guy with some fire in him, similar to that flyers coach

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#11 TwoSkidoos
May 25 2012, 08:50AM
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I would be fine with RK, he's well spoken, and from what I've seen, obviously knows hockey. For example, took an essentially non-hockey country to one that could on any given day taken any other team in the world for a ride.

To me he's the type who demands respect through his demeanour. He can obviously work a system to the point where it's successful, and lastly, Tom Renney said outright that this man deserves to be a head coach in the NHL.

For a bona-fide NHL coach to make that statement should mean something.

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#12 Badger
May 25 2012, 08:55AM
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What's the status of Lindy Ruff? I thought his contract needed to be renewed this offseason or something? I noticed some strife in the Sabres organization this year. Maybe he would like to come back home and coach the Oilers (I realize he's in Buffalo since the 79 or something, so I guess tis isn't really his home). I love that guy's style and he's done good stuff with young, smallish forwards over the years. I'm not sure he's the main reason, but guys like Roy, Briere, Drury, et al sure developed their complete games in Buffalo. He even got Afinogenov to back-check once.

Being a Warburg boy, I'm guessing he misses the mushrooms burgers from the Burger Baron in Calmar as well.

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#13 TigerUnderGlass
May 25 2012, 08:55AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Drawstrings? What a knucklehead.

Velcro is the way to go.

With all the weight you lost I assumed drawstrings were a necessity. You could have had them sewn in for next to nothing on your trip to the Philippines.

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#14 JohnnySkidmarks
May 25 2012, 08:59AM
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Struds for Prime Minister!

I fully agree that Kruger deserves a shot. When Renney was sidelined last year, Kruger did a stellar job with the club in his short but worthwhile tenure.

I believe that if Tambo hires Sutter or another NHL retread, it'll put the Oil back another 4-5 years.

Its time to move forward and take a chance on someone new and unproven, just like the team.

Your move Tambo.

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#15 merfer
May 25 2012, 09:00AM
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Everyone should quit wasting their time discussing RK for head coach. There is no way ST hires this guy for head coach, however I do believe he would like him to come back as an assistant coach. The coach will be Sutter, everyone knows this, and this is all just a show to pretend that they have scoured the face of the earth for the best coach possible.

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#16 justDOit
May 25 2012, 09:01AM
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I'm glad to finally hear some momentum behind RKs name for HC of the Oilers.

If I hear anyone mention Crawford's name again, I can only hope that they mean Cindy. But then again, I'm still miffed at seeing the best player to ever lace skates to his feet sitting on the bench in Nagano during the shootout.

Go Ralph!

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#17 Archaeologuy
May 25 2012, 09:09AM
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My pants are on a quick release mechanism...

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#18 Ryan
May 25 2012, 09:11AM
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there shouldn't even be a question who our next coach should be....WAYNE GRETZKY and he could wear his old jersey

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#19 The Towel Boy
May 25 2012, 09:12AM
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And if you're talking Wanye - there's either no pants at all to have a zipper or button fly or they're just tear-away track pants.

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#20 The Beaker
May 25 2012, 09:21AM
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http://lifehacker.com/5856178/keep-your-loose-zippers-up-with-a-key-ring

There you go Struds. That should help. Put a bell on it if you keep forgetting.

And if all else fails: http://i.qkme.me/56x7.jpg

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#21 book¡e
May 25 2012, 09:32AM
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Good to see some 'inside story' on Ralph.

I thought button fly jeans disappeared by the late 1990's?

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#22 Reg Dunlop
May 25 2012, 09:37AM
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The shelf life of coaches that rely on motivational techniques to squeeze out of players all they can is short. Think J Demers,successful but changed teams every 3 or 4 years when his schtick got old. Not saying that RK=JD but for the next few years Ralph might work, if he can figure out which guys need a pat on the back and which ones need a gun put to their head(figuratively).

Thanks for the article Mr. Strudwick. Well done.

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#23 Reg Dunlop
May 25 2012, 09:42AM
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@bookje

I take great offence to your cocaine and hooker comment, this is a kid friendly area. I'm sure it was only cocaine and STRIPPERS.

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#24 madjam
May 25 2012, 09:45AM
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Kind of sounds like Lowe calls most/all the shots when it comes to club by Renney's comment apparantly . Does that make our GM and coach more like a "lame duck " ,working with modified duties basically ? Is any choice , in your opinion, going to make Oilers any better than Renney was able to do ? If so Jason, whom in your opinion .

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#25 Team Hall
May 25 2012, 09:59AM
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Hey Struddles, nice article, especially the part about the drawstrings.

Isnt't there a stigma in the NHL about hiring the assistant coach to be the head coach? I hear that the players are less likely to take a coach seriously when he's been just an assistant for the past few years.

He's not exactly a ball buster to get Horc and Smytty moving, but maybe that's not what the team needs right now...

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#26 vetinari
May 25 2012, 10:08AM
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I think that whoever they announce as coach, 80% of Oiler Nation will be against the guy to start, but 99.9% will cite him as their first choice if he gets us to the playoffs next year.

As for Krueger, I could easily live with him as our new head coach. I could also easily live with a number of other candidates as our head coach.

I've always preferred a "thinking man's" coach over bombastic blowhards, and I've always thought that youthful players respond better to this approach. Certainly, Renney's work with Eberle had to contribute at some level to Eberle's development and consideration for a major NHL award.

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#27 TigerUnderGlass
May 25 2012, 10:08AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

The shelf life of coaches that rely on motivational techniques to squeeze out of players all they can is short. Think J Demers,successful but changed teams every 3 or 4 years when his schtick got old. Not saying that RK=JD but for the next few years Ralph might work, if he can figure out which guys need a pat on the back and which ones need a gun put to their head(figuratively).

Thanks for the article Mr. Strudwick. Well done.

I disagree. Finding ways to motivate players is the primary job of a head coach at this level. Assistants can be put in charge of everything else, but the head coach needs to be the babysitter.

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#28 The Beaker
May 25 2012, 10:10AM
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@ Come join the Dark Parade...

If "The Assessinator" gets fired next summer my guess is whatever coach gets hired this year gets at least next year to show what hes got before any decision is made on him. So if in two yeras and a one off season of a new GM gets this team into a competitive spot then a new coach may have a chance of sticking.

P.S. Why is the reply button still not working? #BushLeague #LoveO.N.Anyways

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#29 jake
May 25 2012, 10:17AM
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Wasn't it RK who benched Ryan Jones a couple of games last year? Super small minscule sample size but the team seemed to have a different look/demeanor when he coached. They played with some more sense of purpose. I think Jones picked it up a bit too once back in the line-up.

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#30 Snowdropper
May 25 2012, 10:41AM
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Off topic, but Bob McKenzie reported in the last hour that Justin Schutz has submitted paperwork to quit school, potentially meaning the Ducks have a 30-day window to sign him or he will be a UFA on July 1

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#31 db7db7db7
May 25 2012, 10:44AM
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Dman09 wrote:

Well personally if he's coming back I think he should be on the ice with hall or eberle. After three damn near dead last finishes its not like he could possibly make the team worse.

The only problem I see with hiring Gretzky, is how the heck do the Oilers ever fire him if it doesn't pan out. I'd love to be a fly on that wall.

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#32 Oil Is My Blood
May 25 2012, 10:45AM
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GREAT article, Mr Strudwick. You're inside knowledge puts Mr Krueger into the driver's seat, at least in my mind.

However, I need to point out a journalistic type error that you've made. Early in the article you teased us about your grandmother's opinion, yet you never told us what it was.

Come on, Scoops, come on!!

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#33 book¡e
May 25 2012, 10:51AM
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Snowdropper wrote:

Off topic, but Bob McKenzie reported in the last hour that Justin Schutz has submitted paperwork to quit school, potentially meaning the Ducks have a 30-day window to sign him or he will be a UFA on July 1

As per a discussion some time ago on LT's blog, I suspect that there might be a twist in the story and the Ducks could choose to retain his rights by drafting him in a late round of the draft.

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#34 Archaeologuy
May 25 2012, 10:54AM
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book¡e wrote:

As per a discussion some time ago on LT's blog, I suspect that there might be a twist in the story and the Ducks could choose to retain his rights by drafting him in a late round of the draft.

Its my understanding that by waiting until this time to file the paperwork that he is leaving school it makes him inelligible for the draft. The Ducks couldnt draft him at all.

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#35 book¡e
May 25 2012, 10:54AM
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Archaeologuy - Here is the rationale for that claim (with references to the CBA).

First, here is why Schultz becomes a Free Agent as opposed to entering next years draft.

8.6 (c) iii: As long as he stays in school, Schultz is Anaheim’s property till August 15, 2013. (when he is targeted to graduate) 8.6 (c) Iv: On July 1, if he leaves school, Anaheim loses his rights retroactively to June 1, 2012.

On June 22 and 23 nobody can pick Schultz as he is on Anaheim’s Reserve List. However, as of July 1st he is retroactively eligible for the 2012 draft. Because nobody selected him at the 2012 draft, section 10.1 (d) (i) indicates that Further, any Player eligible for claim in the Entry Draft, but who was unclaimed, shall be an Unrestricted Free Agent subject to the provision of Section 8.9(b) . Thus he becomes a Free Agent. Then section 8.9(b) gives him the right to sign a SPC with an NHL team at any point between the end of the draft and the beginning of the season. Thus giving him the right to play in the NHL.

Now, Anaheim could choose to draft him in the 7th round this year. The pick would be disallowed and forfieted, perhaps with an additional penalty (as you are not allowed to draft someone who is on an NHL reserve list, even if it is your own list). After Schultz’ status changes, then he would retroactivly be eligible which would then result in a reversal of the NHL’s disallowing of the pick and Schultz would be Anaheim property again.

It's like legal time travel!

Note, I realize that retroactive drafting sounds totally illogical, but the whole thing is illogical, but legally, it makes sense.

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#36 book¡e
May 25 2012, 11:06AM
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@book¡e

Also, I should add that by that logic, the Oilers could also choose to draft Schultz in a late round which might then cause a situation where Schultz can either choose to sign with Anaheim, stay in school and remain Anaheim's property, or file his papers and then become Edmonton's property.

I can't imagine that this situation won't involve the lawyers getting involved. The NHL likley is not too happy about their little loophole.

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#37 Where's Your Towel
May 25 2012, 11:13AM
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Thanks for this article Struds. Your best to date in my opinion.

Your insight really warms me to the idea of Kruger. I like the idea of a coach with a unique approach. Hiring the cookie-cutter "experienced" NHL coaches hasn't done much for our end result so far.

Get in the RK, and build something unique!

And... Let's clear the air regarding Grandma-gate. What does she really think?!

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#38 Quicksilver ballet
May 25 2012, 11:26AM
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@ Beaker

That's a given. Any longer than a 2 yr deal means they'll be paying two coaches in 2014/2015 with a new guy at the helm. This move must've been made for purely optics sake, buy Steve another year. Kruger will be a good bandaid to bridge the gap here for the next 2 yrs.

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#39 John Chambers
May 25 2012, 11:34AM
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Jason,

Is it possible, especially on a team like the Oil with a couple of core young guys, that some of the key players' opinions might factor into the decision for the next coach?

As in, do you think Tambi ever sat down with Hall to ask his opinion of Remney's work, or what kind of coach he would succeed best under?

I know this might sound kind of absurd bc the players should never be higher than the coach or management, but to what extent are "franchise" players opinions sought or considered?

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#40 Westcoastoil
May 25 2012, 12:03PM
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If RK was to come on board, i"d like to see Nelson on the bench with him.

Jason are you able to give us an indication of what coaching role Bucky fulfils on the staff? Is it scouting other teams, running practices, is he involved in the tactics? Just wondering. Thx

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#41 db7db7db7
May 25 2012, 12:07PM
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Westcoastoil wrote:

If RK was to come on board, i"d like to see Nelson on the bench with him.

Jason are you able to give us an indication of what coaching role Bucky fulfils on the staff? Is it scouting other teams, running practices, is he involved in the tactics? Just wondering. Thx

I agree, and would also add that Rocky Thompson should be named one of the assistants. He is the motivator that this team needs.

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#42 db7db7db7
May 25 2012, 12:42PM
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Ok. I think I’ve pieced this thing together. I bet that it was always the plan to have Krueger eventually become head coach. The timeline was probably longer, but a job offer in Europe for Krueger probably just forced Tamby’s hand to hurry up the transition so he doesn’t lose Krueger.

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#44 Clangger
May 25 2012, 03:35PM
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Coach Struds sound pretty good!

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