IN THE KNOW: RALPH IN RUNNING

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.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    I have been hoping for Krueger to get a chance at the big job since he arrived in Edmonton. This guy had unprecedented success with a mediocre Swiss program, and has transformed the Oilers’ special teams this year. There was speculation on this site earlier this spring that krueger would be headed back to Europe. I wonder if giving him the head job would be the only way to keep him. Not that it should be the reason to do so, but it would be a shame to lose someone of his experience at this point in the transition to respectability.

  • Mitch

    Robin I have looked over the bio of Jon Cooper. What does standout to me is how the teams he coaches continually improve in leaps and bounds. He seems like a driven man has a business degree and also was working on a law degree. I like how he is a young guy, that should fit the mould of this team because they are only gonna get younger. It seems as though he coaches a offensive style which would be considered oilers hockey. This yr he has done very impressive feats 28 game win streak a sweep to go to finals and a 55 win season.

    It’s about the right fit for me, I’m not caught up on the experience factor at all. I think this guy has a proven track record that shows he is a winner.

    If all we can do is get caught up on the NHL experience factor we may miss out on the guy that can lead us for the next 10+ yrs like Sather did. This is a tough call, lets hope they do thier homework and take thier time.

    I dont want to see a coach hired till about June 15.

  • Stupendous Man

    I keep hearing that this will be Tambellini’s last coaching hire. Is it possible it won’t be? I mean, if the Oilers become a playoff team and then a contender under the new coach’s watch — but can’t get over the hump of either becoming a contender or winning a championship — does that mean Tambellini gets the axe at that point, however many years down the road that is? The reason I ask is the answer should very much affect Tambellini’s choice of a new bench boss. I don’t see a risk in going with an up-and-comer with an impressive resume (ie. Nelson, Cooper, Eakins), if the goal is simply year-over-year improvement. The Oilers should be able to achieve that just through the expected improvement of their young core over the next couple of seasons — regardless of what else the team does. I just don’t see this as being such a big risk for Tambellini — especially since he somehow “earned” an extension after “leading” the Oil to last/last/next-to-last-place finishes.

  • I think Krueger would make a fine Head Coach for the Oilers.

    I wonder if Lowe/Tambellini are going to take into account the opinion of some of the current (key) players on Krueger?

    When Renney went down with the concussion, Krueger ran Renney’s lines and match up for 2 games, (lost both), then switched up the lines and match ups (ie. sat Jones).

    The Oilers managed to beat CAL and PHI in that time span. I think the 2-0 win over PHI was the best team game they played all year.

    I know its micro sample sized, but he deployed the same roster in a different way and got better results. That’s significant.

    • book¡e

      WG – I noticed that as well. I thought it may have been a factor in deciding to fire Renney. Strudwick basically endorsed Ralph today in a post as well. I also think he is at the right stage of experience for the team. Old enough to know what he is doing, but fresh enough to the NHL to bring something new. Don’t hire some re-tred coach who has been fired 3 or 4 times.

  • book¡e

    I was really excited when Ralph Krueger was first hired by the Oilers. When he was coaching them, those nasty Swiss National teams were some of the hardest working in all of those tournaments and Olympics.

    Would LOVE if Ralph could bring that drive and hard work to the Oil.