The Oilers will finally announce their next head coach and they will be promoting Ralph Krueger from associate coach to head coach at a press conference tomorrow morning.

Who is Ralph Krueger?

Ralph Krueger was born August 31st, 1959 in Winnipeg. He played minor hockey in Manitoba, all the way up to the MJHL with Assiniboine, before spending one full season with the Calgary Wranglers of the WHL where he tallied 28 goals and 83 points in 62 games.

With no feelers in the NHL, he flew to Germany and had a very productive eleven seasons. Krueger was a scoring right-winger tallying 314 goals and 617 points in 452 games. He then retired and went right into coaching. He was an assistant for a few years in Germany, before a very successful run as head coach in Switzerland.

Here’s a quick recap of his career on his wikipedia page. 

Krueger began his coaching career as an assistant with EV Duisburg of the German second league. Between 1994 and 1998 he led VEU Feldkirch to five straight Austrian championships, culminating in Feldkirch becoming champions in 1998 of the European Ice Hockey League, made up of the champions of various European leagues. This experience later encouraged him to author a motivational book. After the successes with the Austrian team, he took over as full-time head coach of the Swiss national ice hockey team, having split his time between Feldkirch and Switzerland in 1998.

 Outside of coaching, Krueger was a successful motivational speaker. 

I found that awesome picture at the Middle East Speakers Bureau, where Krueger was one of the presenters. Here is an excerpt from his bio at that convention. 

In his presentations he explores the elements necessary to build a high performance team. Ralph places team spirit above individual success, a philosophy he also explores in his book Teamlife: From Failure to Success.

 It is evident that some of Krueger’s biggest strengths are communication and motivation, and he’ll need those skills to convince his team to be prepared every night. Many players admitted at the end of the season that they need more guys to "buy in" next year, and I’m betting Steve Tambellini is hoping Krueger’s background in motivational speaking and communication skills will connect with the young Oilers.

One of Krueger’s former players in Switzerland, Hnat Domenichelli, recently gave me his assessment of Krueger as a head coach. 

The best way I can explain it is that Ralph is a very powerful person, and he’s a very powerful motivator.

 If Ralph was able to get himself in front of the brass of the Oilers, he’d put on a very powerful presentation. I think that’s how he got the job as an associate coach, and I believe that his ability to speak and communicate with people is going to give him a great chance to be the next head coach of the Oilers. I’m not saying he’s automatically the best choice, but I could see how after listening to him speak that the Oilers management would come out of that meeting thinking he’s a serious candidate.

His best quality is how he motivates people, and his knowledge of the game is comparable to anybody.

I’ve heard many people compare Krueger to Tom Renney, in that they think neither has that "hard-ass" edge that people feel the Oilers need to make them competitive. I think that might be a bit premature considering none of us have seen him as a head coach.

When you are an associate/assistant coach you rarely are the main motivator. There are cases where it has happened, but that’s not how it was under Renney. I think the "hard-ass" term is a bit misused, considering many felt Darryl Sutter was a that guy, but then when you listened to the Kings talk about him they all said he wasn’t a screamer.

He just had an ability to calmly get his point across. He wanted players to be focused. Based on Krueger’s background, I think he’ll be a guy that knows who to push and how to support.

The key for him will be to make it clear from the start that all the players, especially the veterans, will be held accountable. Last season some veterans were constantly given 3rd, 4th and 5th chances to find their games despite showing any signs of improvement. I suspect that will change under Krueger.


Krueger’s first order of business will be to try and persuade UFA D-man, Justin Schultz, to sign in Edmonton. If Krueger is half as motivating as Matt Foley there is no way Schultz won’t be sign here July 1st and be LIVING IN A DOWN BY THE NORTH SASKATCHEWAN RIVER…( I love how David Spade has to cover his face while trying not to laugh during this skit. Farley was a beauty.)

The Oilers don’t have a set time with Schultz just yet, but they will likely have one soon. Schultz’ camp has yet to communicate when they can meet with their client, but it will happen. Likely on Thursday or Friday.

I wonder if the Oilers will include one or two of their young stars in that meeting.

Every team will offer Schultz the same contract, so they will all be selling why their organization is the best suited for him. Having a head coach in place will help, especially a professional motivational speaker, but I’d bring Taylor Hall and maybe Jordan Eberle so Schultz can hear from the players.

Hall is a confident and charismatic guy, and his words might carry more weight than the GM or even coach.

The Oilers aren’t the front runner, but they aren’t a long shot either. They won’t hold back anything in their presentation, so don’t be surprised if Hall and/or Eberle are part of the process.


Tomorrow the Road Hockey to Cure Cancer event is having a final push for registration. They will only accept 100 teams and they already have 84 registered. I thought I’d let our loyal Nation readers get a head start on putting a team in.

Here’s the details….

The tourney runs on Saturday September 22nd in the Edmonton Expo parking lot. It will be an all day event with live music, beer gardens etc….

Team information:

– 8 to 12 players (16 years or older)
– 3 on 3 plus goalie
– Games are 30 minutes in length
– 5 games on the day
Fundraising information:
– $50 registration fee/person (covers Reebok jersey and food from BP)
– $10,000 team fundraising minimum
– Deadline to fundraise is September 22nd
Registration info:
Phone: 1-877-541-4646
Email for more info:

Teams will also have the opportunity to have former NHLers play on their team.

This will be one of the biggest road hockey tourneys in Canada.

If you sign up a team, let me know so we can follow some of the Nation readers and see if you have mad road hockey skills.

Good luck…

  • Seriously....Gord?

    Decent hire. We need to become an attack attack attack team. That’s the style of play that both takes advantage of our roster and makes us the team that other players want to play for.

  • Seriously....Gord?

    Ralph better be in the bunker rehearsing his pitch and taking Cameron Barker with him, to tell him JS how he’s living in a van down by the river next season and will be his shadow if he doesn’t sign with the Oil.

  • Al Davis

    In my experience in the NHL – ha ha – in business, being very confident in your vision for something and knowing what you are doing eliminates a lot of noise from those who are supposed to listen and act.

    Yelling or endless lecturing isn’t effective, especially with how society is now.

    I also feel Kruger will have a chance to guide and motivate the Europeans more effectively. The NA players the Oilers have either are elite and don’t need hand holding, or aren’t a part of the future. The NA coaches can handle the NA guys anyway.

    There are social complexities on the team now with the mix of backgrounds in the system, each with their own sensibilities.

    Communicating clearly with them in a way they take to heart will go along way to them reaching their potentials.

    If this hiring happens, I think it’s a good move at this point. Perhaps Cooper would be the bolder move, more risk, more reward, but that doesn’t seem to be the way right now. Can’t complain really.

  • RPG

    According to Bob MacKenzie, the Oilers are meeting with Schultz at noon. Quick press conference here, then hopping aboard the Bat Jet. Let’s hope Krueger’s motivational speaking is as good as advertised.

    • Jason Gregor

      Do the math man…9 am presser…Likely not over until 9:30…then drive to airport..Earliest flight leaves, if Katz jet, is 10:30…four hour flight, plus two hour time change and they get in at 4:30…

      Oilers not meeting until Thursday or Friday most likely. Was just told that from them.

  • RPG

    Oilers might be meeting Schultz sooner rather then later

    Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie)
    6/26/12 9:45 PM
    Interesting day for Oilers tomorrow. Will announce Ralph Krueger as new coach at 9 am MT, meet with UFA Justin Schultz in TOR in afternoon.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Jason, do you know if any other teams have already scheduled to meet or met with Schultz and Co.? Any confirmation on which teams? All been pretty much speculation so far.

  • DSF

    Bob McKenzie ‏@TSNBobMcKenzie

    Some NHL teams believe Schultz is destined to end up with his home province Canucks. We should know more in next few days if not sooner.

    • John Chambers

      Hey Justin, you can either get set up in a Kitsilano penthouse, play on the pp and challenge for Stanley next year, or overlook the frozen River Valley while the Oilers endure a number of losing streaks throughout the winter under a rookie coach.

      I’ll be amazed if we sign this guy. At the end of the summer it’ll be a success for Oilers Mgmt if we end up with Colaiaccovo and Greg Zanon.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I doubt that Toronto dealt Schenn without being reletively sure about having a replacement waiting. Everyone in the centre of the universe thinks that player is Schultz, leaving Rielly to return to jr.

  • Clyde Frog

    If Stauffer is saying we are 4th on Justin’s list, then we are probably 1st or 2nd.

    Not to say he isn’t plugged in, just that those comments, a: drive Oiler listeners to listen more and b: make Tambo a hero if a deal happens.

    Saying Justin is a near lock to come here would diminish any praise that could be cast on Tambo…

    If the kid is just looking for a pit stop to free agency, winning now compared to the opportunity for ice time/quality PP time is probably much lower on the list.

    But then again, I am NOT in the know and my logic is probably coloured by my wanting the Oil to win this kid over.

    **I am suprised there hasn’t been a Nation campaign to win this kid over with twitter/facebook flooding… Or a flashy poster we could have presented him… At the very least showing him Yakupov’s twitter account and the 20,000 plus 16-25 year old female stalkers from Edmonton he has picked up!

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    What a frigging waste of time. Tambo should be forever referred to as Mr. Dithers. It took a full 3 months to promote from within? Did they even bother interviewing anyone else?

    Nothing against Kruger, but how is he going to be different from Renney? How is this move about changing the culture?

    With the exception of Montreal, the other coaching hires definitely went outside their organizations. Does the concept of “think different” elude Oilers management? Or is by promoting within the only way to ensure continued employment for Buchberger?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis


    If they had their mind made up a while ago, why waste this time playing games with the media specualtion, or was this a test to see what kind of rumours would spin out from specualtion.

    Why interview Crawford twice? Why bother with Todd Nelson interview? Why bring in Iron Mike for an supposed interview?

    I’m all for counting to see how many gulps Steve Tambellini can make during his press conference today. If he was a Poker player, that’s a definate tell that he’s hiding information. My guess is three gulps in the presser…

    Will Shultz join the defence? I sure hope so… Another Gulp…

    • Dan the Man

      Why shouldn’t they take their time and do their due diligence when hiring a new coach? Why wouldn’t they interview others for the position? Even if Krueger was the front runner all along shouldn’t they see what other candidates might bring?

      I’m sure you would have been just as critical if they had quickly announced Krueger as the new head coach immediately after it was announced that Renney was not renewed.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Ales Hemsky made this Edmonton Tourism video 5 years ago (according to YouTube)… probably the one they showed to Heatley. I suggest they edit it before showing it to JS. Maybe show a few more winter scenes and a hot chick or 10. Maybe?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Great about Krueger.

    JG. Completely agree about taking some players to try and woo JS. But I’d take a D too to be able to talk about his position and where he’d fit in, the chemistry there and so forth… Whitney is the most affable guy and without his injury our best D anyway, I’d take him along.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I’m sure Schultz is all but in the bag, please don’t send Tambellini. Remove some chairs on the plane if you have to. Passenger list should only include Krueger,Lowe,MacT,Katz,Hallsy and RNH, it’s a tragedy we can’t pin Matt Foley down for this trip.

    If Justin Schultz’ dream is to live in a van down by the river, then welcome to the illustrious shores of the North Saskatchewan Justin Schultz.

    Edmonton is one of the finest river cities in all of Canada.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    @ Dan the man

    Nothing wrong with doing due diligence, I just didn’t get the impression we actually were interviewing people for the last 2 months.

    The only reason it should’ve taken this long would be because they wanted Oates or if they wanted Jon Cooper and Cooper said no late last week.

    • Dan the Man

      Fair enough but the Oilers seem to be pretty good at keeping things quiet so at this point who knows why they took their time with this announcement?

      In the end I think they are making the right choice and I really have no problem with the time it took to make the decision. Two years from now if Krueger ends up being an excellent head coach will it matter that it took 2 months longer than people would have liked to name him to the position?

  • Dan the Man

    I’ll man up and admit that I thought Krueger was an outside chance, in fact no chance at all, to be the next HC. Congrats to him though and I hope he surrounds himself with some powerful hockey minds and motivators on the bench.

    Secondly, good to see H-Nat’s name on the blog today. He is a relative of mine through my wife’s side. I’ve never met him but cool anyways.

    Lastly, I’m looking forward to picking up my game used, autographed Hall and Eberle hockey sticks today from the Oilers HQ. Another couple of pieces to add to my collection of memorabilia, and it is always great to contribute to the Oiler’s charities. Can’t wait to grip those sticks!! haha

  • Zamboni Driver

    999,999 Edmontonians this morning:

    Eating milk and toast.

    Hear the scintillating news that the scintillating Ralph Krueger is the new coach.

    Resume eating milk and toast.

  • Dan the Man

    Whatever they too i hope they don’t send Tambo to meet with Justin Shultz. He is the most demotivating, uncharismatic, and unconvincing speaker i’ve ever heard. I can hear it now… “Justin.. we So want you to come to our team” “we So are looking forward to you playing defence for us” , “We SO hope you choose us”! Brutal.

    • Zamboni Driver

      We are SO proud of finishing last-last-second last. See?

      We just hired a guy who was SO in on it.

      We SO know we’re doing!

      Heck my bosses SO have like a thousand Stanley Cup rings from, like the 1920s or something.

  • Ive had the pleasure of attending a couple coaching symposiums that RK spoke at.
    He’s a beauty!

    Im hearing a lot of how similar Ralph is to Renney. Personally I feel that is entirely false. Renney to me was a good talker but always left me feeling I was having smoke blown up my a**. i.e.. substance was lacking even though the air was full of colourful noise. (see eric tillman for another example of same)

    For my money Ralph is also a great speaker but he is delivering a powerful message that has substance and credibility. Im pumped about this signing. Good on the Oilers for having the cajones to not just recycle someone else’s junk (brent sutter, mark crawford, etc. etc.)

    Go get em ralphie!!

  • A-Mc

    Why shouldn’t they take their time and do their due diligence when hiring a new coach? Why wouldn’t they interview others for the position? Even if Krueger was the front runner all along shouldn’t they see what other candidates might bring?

    I’m sure you would have been just as critical if they had quickly announced Krueger as the new head coach immediately after it was announced that Renney was not renewed.

    Really Dan?

    Not critical of the decision… I’m sure glad you put words in my mouth.

    Critical of how long it took to make the decision… Ralph was the pick all along.