When the Edmonton Oilers announced this morning they’d hired Freddy Krueger as an associate coach, my first reaction — aside from passing Cornflakes through my nostrils — was "DubyaTeeEff?"
It didn’t take long, me being a seasoned journalist and all, to realize the Oilers had actually hired Ralph Krueger, not Freddy, the pizza-faced maniac from the Nightmare on Elm Street series of slasher flicks.
Freddy Krueger? Honestly, I felt like a blockhead for mixing my Kruegers up. I mean, complexion aside, Freddy Krueger might be a laugh riot at a sushi party and he does lend new meaning to the term "putting on the blades," but he’s got no business coaching in the NHL.
It goes without saying the Oilers would be nuts to hire Freddy Krueger and his ZERO games of NHL coaching or playing experience and add him to the already green bench tandem of Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith under head man Tom Renney, right?
Apparently, that NHL coaching experience thing doesn’t really matter because when I got my Kruegers straightened away, it turns out Ralph hasn’t coached any more games in the NHL than Freddy has. Krueger, 50, actually does have a coaching resume, as highlighted in the news release from the Oilers:
"Krueger was most recently the Head Coach of the Swiss National Team. During his tenure from 1997-2010, he advanced the Swiss National Team Program from 15th to 7th in the IIHF World Rankings. He guided the team to a 6th place finish at the Olympics in 2006 and 4th in the World Championship in 1998 and 5th in 2010. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native has participated in 12 World Championships and three Olympics.
Prior to joining the Swiss National Team, Krueger was the General Manager and Head Coach of VEU Feldkirch in the Austrian 1st Division from 1991-1998. Under his leadership, they were a five-time Austrian Champion, three-time Alpen league Champion and the 1998 European Champion.
Krueger played his major junior hockey in the WCHL with New Westminster and Calgary before playing in the German 1st Division from 1979-1989. He was also part of the German National Team from 1981-1986 in which the he participated in the World Championship twice.
Krueger, who wrote a German best-seller called “TEAMLIFE – Over Setbacks to Success”, has also served as a European Consultant with the Carolina Hurricanes from 2005 until now."
THE RIGHT MIX?
Renney and GM Steve Tambellini must know something I don’t — and that’s entirely possible — because I don’t see a lot on Krueger’s resume that leads me to believe he’s the best guy to be adding as an associate when the two assistants, Buchberger and Smith, are as inexperienced as they are.
While building the Swiss from the depths of futility into also-rans as a hockey power is a feather in Krueger’s cap, I’m not convinced that feat trumps NHL experience behind the bench, given the distinct lack of same Renney has with Buchberger and Smith. The other issue, of course, is familiarity with players in the Oilers system. Smith has very little. Krueger, I assume, has next to none.
Maybe I’m out to lunch — it wouldn’t be the first time — but this one’s a head-scratcher for me. Renney obviously sees something in Krueger I don’t, which would be easy. I’ve never met the man. I haven’t followed his career. Is this hire simply thinking outside the box, which I have no issue with, or is it a reach?
My ignorance about Krueger — I vaguely remembered his name from his days as a player with New Westminster and his latest Olympic appearance with the Swiss — doesn’t make him a bad coach or even a bad choice. Neither, necessarily, does that big zero in terms of NHL experience.
But it makes me nervous.
THIS AND THAT
— There’s something to rumours the Oilers may be following the lead of the Vancouver Canucks, who have eliminated their pay-per-view games to have additional games on Sportsnet 1.
My information is the Oilers, who had 16 pay-per-view games during the 2009-10 regular season, are talking to Sportsnet 1 about picking up some games. The Oilers had 44 games on Sportsnet last season, 12 on CBC and 10 on TSN.
Don’t be surprised if the Oilers end up having a handful of games on pay-per-view regardless of what comes about in talks with Sportsnet 1. They could opt to go the PPV route again during pre-season for road games.
— Krueger apparently approached the Columbus Blue Jackets about a coaching gig before the Oilers came calling. I’m not sure if he was after the head coaching job Scott Arniel got or the position of head coach on the AHL farm in Springfield, but GM Scott Howson said "No thanks."
— My understanding is the Oilers did re-visit the question of keeping Rob Daum around and interviewed him last week. Obviously, the second look didn’t change the minds of Tambellini and Renney.
— While I haven’t confirmed it with the Oilers, my understanding is they are looking at Aug. 15 as the date to have a replacement for retired radio play-by-play man Rod Phillips in place.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.