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.