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….
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.