It seems likely the Edmonton Oilers will add another body to their coaching staff for next season. I find myself wondering if we’re jumping to conclusions by assuming it’ll be an assistant coach. How about a head coach?

Yes, I know the Oilers have one of those. His name is Ralph Krueger. Thanks, Tips. Up front, I’m spit-balling here because nobody with the Oilers has let me in on the down low about pending personnel decisions, but I’m wondering if Krueger might be better suited, and more comfortable, back in a role as an associate coach, the position he first took in Edmonton under Tom Renney.

Specifically, I’m wondering if a move like that by Krueger might make sense for the Oilers with a couple of proven, blue chip coaching candidates on the horizon — Lindy Ruff and Dave Tippett, who are both behind the bench with Team Canada at the World Championships right now.

I ran Tippett’s name by our readers about a year ago before the Oilers decided on Krueger, contemplating if Tippett might become available. Now, with the Oilers looking to add to a staff that includes Krueger, Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger, and Tippett’s contract with the Phoenix Coyotes about to expire June 30, I believe his name is worth repeating.


Tippett, 51, has made the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons as an NHL coach with Dallas and Phoenix, taking the Coyotes to the Western Conference final last season. All told, he boasts a record of 427-252-28-79 (.611) in 786 regular season games.

Tippett has also got three years as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings and an IHL championship with the Houston Aeros in 1999 on his coaching resume. Most important, if the Coyotes status remains up in the air in terms of ownership and Tippett doesn’t get a new contract, or chooses to test the market, he will be available.

"There’s gonna be some clarity to it one way or the other this year because if it gets to July 1 and there’s no owner, I’m without a contract," Tippett told USA Today May 2. "I’m gonna coach somewhere next year. I hope it’s here. But I’m gonna coach somewhere next year."

Now, I’m not making the quantum leap that "somewhere" necessarily means Edmonton, but I won’t discount the possibility either. All I know is that new GM Craig MacTavish won’t be doing his job if he doesn’t include Tippett on his call list after June 30, if the Oilers don’t at least make a pitch.

There are others, like Ruff, not to mention a handful of other younger coaches looking for NHL jobs as well, and MacT better ring them up, too. Of course, seeing Krueger step aside for Tippett probably seems like a long shot, but so did the hiring of Pat Quinn and Renney as a tandem (yes, that went ever so badly) and the return to the organization of MacTavish himself. Some people laughed out loud when that possibility was raised.

Just sayin’ . . .

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • No way Ralph looses his job . McT will give him this year but he will have some advice from above . Still think a big deal maybe out there with Columbus .They are deep on “D” so maybe Johnson or Tyutin plus would love to pry Dubinsky from them . Give to get . Gags #7 N.Schultz , Magnus , Hartski, Hemsky are all pieces that have value and could get moved let alone some juniors & AHL players.

  • Nothing like changing the plan every off-season. Giving a new coach only one year for the second time in the past 5 seasons would be a desperate embarrassing scramble that indicates we are truly lost without a compass.

    Gotta make a decision, and stick with the plan. And by all accounts, coaching isn’t the problem – especially with a roster that includes Belanger, Potter, Jones, Smyth, and a bunch of AHL’ers.

    Kruger will look like a genius if he gets a legit NHL lineup.

  • With all the quality available big names that might be available how the Oilers remain with Kreuger is beyond me.

    My top 5 wish list is:

    1. Claud Julien
    2. Lindy Ruff
    3. Dave Tippet
    4. Alain Vigneult
    5. Hitchcock

    Some of these names may or may not shake out, I think some will be available. Why again are we keeping Kreuger and Smith and Bucky. There may be too much high quality talent available, and hell I’d even take Sutter. We need some crusty abrasive bench general to reach the next level not Mr. Nick Foley van by the River in over his head motivational speaker.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    After watching Seth Jones for the last couple weeks, it sure appears there’s one thing absent from his game, he’s missing a mean streak. It just doesn’t seem to be in this kid. Easy to see he won’t be the best player in this draft. He may be the first taken, but he’ll be far from the best.

    • I never made it down to Rexall to watch the kid unfortunately, but from what I understood the difference between Portland this year and last year was Seth Jones. I don’t know if mean a mean streak matters with some players. Did it matter for Nick Lidstrom?

      I watched a lot of his father in the NBA with I think it was the Mav’s and Rap’s and Nuggets and he was a bit of an undersized power forward with big ears who was not necessarily the nastiest player or most gifted player, but he battled with the Oakley’s and Rodman’s and he had a lot of compete. If Seth has that level of compete Colorado will be happy.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        His size and position will draw a lot of attention in the mens NHL game. He’ll be tested plenty the next couple seasons. Maybe he gets tired of being on the receiving end and starts dishing it out as well. The sooner the better in his case.

    • The Soup Fascist

      I agree that he is not naturally mean but I think the kid is extremely talented and lack of a mean streak does not preclude him from being best player taken.

      He skates exceptionally well. His speed and agility for a guy is size is remarkable. He pulls away from most guys in the WHL in short order. His first pass is excellent for a player of his age. If he is even “capable” defensively and gets in the way of opponents, the rest of the package is unbelievable.

      Remember this is his first (and likely, last) year in a very tough league. He doesn’t have to fight or destroy guys to be effective. He would be my #1 all day long – and I can’t remember the last defenceman I thought that about.

  • Seeing as Smith and Bucky unlikely to take over reigns if team falters behind Kruger , whom might be bought in to fill that void ? Ruff and Tippet are head coaches and I doubt either would come here as an assistant . Oilers faltered with a losing streak , and that reflects on coaching and players , like it or not .

    Winning will be tougher next season with our division revamped to include San Jose , L.A. and Phoenix I believe . Tippet would be best bet being as he is familiar with the West clubs . If Tippet comes in then entire coaching staff might change . Would that be a positive ?

  • The Soup Fascist

    IMHO I think that RK lost the bench ………..his system of play is unique ( not sure I understand the logic of attacking on all three zones) and it seems that players had a very hard time adjusting. This was especially true for the bottom six.

    Maybe having him as the “technical coach” breaking down plays, and doing the less glamorous work is a better fit for him? I never bought the “motivational speaker stuff”, as something necessary to be a good NHL coach anyways.

  • book¡e

    RB – You are saying that Craig MacTavish should be talking to Tippet and if he isn’t, he isn’t doing his job?

    Has there ever been a case where a coach who was not fired stepped aside so that a new coach could come on board? If Craig MacTavish is talking to Tippet, he better just come out and fire Kruger otherwise he furthers the belief that the Oilers organization lacks professionalism.

    Either Kruger is your coach going forwards or he isn’t.

    “Ralph, we definitely want you to come back next year, that is unless someone better comes along in which case we want you to come back as an associate coach, that is unless we can get someone better for that job too. How are you at stacking towels and taping sticks?”

    • “Yes, I know the Oilers have one of those. His name is Ralph Krueger. Thanks, Tips. Up front, I’m spit-balling here because nobody with the Oilers has let me in on the down low about pending personnel decisions, but I’m wondering if Krueger might be better suited, and more comfortable, back in a role as an associate coach, the position he first took in Edmonton under Tom Renney.”

      If you read what I wrote, this ball only starts rolling if Krueger indicates a desire — or at least a willingness — to go back to an associate role if a big name coach is in play. Some guys like the heat and the challenge of the lead role and others don’t.

      If Krueger is open to the suggestion, it can be a win-win for both him (especially if he stays at the same pay rate for the duration of his current contract) and the Oilers.

  • book¡e

    Ok, point taken. I don’t see RK being willing to do that unless he feels that he will be fired otherwise. Maybe Tippett will come in as senior advisory Vice President of coaching?

  • book¡e

    Canada has over 600,000 registered hockey players (, while Slovenia has 924 players. Mongolia, for sake of comparison, has 1001. France, who upset the Russians, has 17,381. Oh, did I forget to mention that Slovenia’s only NHL player is still in the playoffs? The fact that Ruff could not coach the Canadians to a regulation win over the Slovenians, in my opinion, should disqualify him from ever allowing to be able to coach again. Certainly not in the NHL or for a national team – unless someone will let him coach Slovenia, then it might work out in Canada’s favour. Continuing to play Simmonds on the PP, where the only time he scored was when the puck deflected off his skate, is baffling.

  • DSF

    Then the Oilers need to fire the fans.

    Refuse to take their money.

    Play in an empty arena.

    That’ll show ’em.

    Or maybe the Oilers need to put a better product on the ice.

  • Citizen David


    If it will help stop your crusade against Oiler fans, I’ll have you know I’m a Lowe fan. He was a big part of our cup wins. Before my time but I can still thank him for that. He was a decent coach and I liked his work as a GM. While Greztky is a Kings fan, and Messier is nowhere to be seen, probably a Rangers fan, Lowe clearly is passionate about the Oilers. People pick on his flaws in his personality and then turn around and promote Burke. Cause that makes total sense. Some things Lowe has said have been dumb, see “six rings”, but who hasn’t said dumb things.

    Oiler fans are bitter and jaded from seven years of failure, Lowe has been in upper management the whole time. But just like a GM gets more that one Coach hire, Presidents get more than one GM hire. Unfortunately, if the Oilers enjoy success under MacT fans will probably give no credit to Lowe, even thought they will surely place it all on him if MacT doesn’t work.

    Bottom line is Oiler fans are passionate. Which is a good thing. And the primary reason players won’t come to Edmonton is because of the teams performance. If the oilers start winning their division players will come.

  • Many on here respect Kevin Lowe and his commitment to Edmonton. We are fans of the player and the man. Not as a GM or president. Me personally I separate it. He’s the last one from 80’s Oilers who needs the jersey hung in the rafters, and he will get a cheer no doubt. But 2 playoff in seven years, he has become one of the worse executives in hockey. Its a what have you done for us lately outlook with many of us.