Report: Ralph Krueger the Oilers’ second choice, behind Mark Messier

CBC’s Elliotte Friedman made waves a few nights ago on Hockey Night in Canada when he reported that the Oilers had initially offered their head coaching job not to Ralph Krueger, but to former great Mark Messier. Today, he expanded on that report.

From Friedman’s 30 Thoughts column:

Last year, the Edmonton Oilers considered Messier, Brent Sutter, Todd Nelson and Ralph Krueger (who got the job) to replace head coach Tom Renney. There may have been more, but that’s who I can pin down. At some point, Messier was offered it. Oilers president Kevin Lowe declined a request to comment, so exact details are sketchy. But Messier considered it, took a little bit of time and said "no" for family reasons.

Bullet Dodged?

Photo: Brendan Lee/Wikimedia

While the Oilers at times struggled under Ralph Krueger, who eventually got the job, it says here that the team still did well by Mark Messier’s decision not to come to Edmonton.

That isn’t a shot at Messier, who had a legendary playing career both in Edmonton and elsewhere, so much as it is a reflection of his lack of experience. He retired in 2004 and hasn’t worked as a coach in either the AHL or NHL over that span.

Instead, Messier has worked with the New York Rangers as a special assistant to Glen Sather. He’s had a series of brief stints with Hockey Canada. As head coach, he guided the national team to a second place finish at the 2010 Spengler Cup and a third place finish at the 2010 Deutschland Cup. The team he put together as general manager at the 2010 World Championships finished seventh. It’s a poor resume for either the top job in hockey operations or the number one role behind the bench of an NHL team.

It’s also hard not to look back at what happened in Phoenix after Wayne Gretzky stepped down as head coach. The Coyotes went out and hired Dave Tippett, a career coach who had 13 years behind the bench, starting as an IHL assistant coach, before taking the top job with the Coyotes. Phoenix improved by 28 points in his first year behind the bench.

Perhaps Messier would have been a coaching prodigy, able to hit the ground running at hockey’s highest level without spending any time learning the ropes as even an NHL assistant. Maybe that’s what he’ll do in New York. But it’s given the choice between a career coach who has paid his dues and put in his time (either in the majors or the minors or even junior, as new Colorado coach Patrick Roy did) and a guy walking in with his playing career as the number one point on his resume, it seems folly to offer the job to the latter.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Canucks Army, Thomas Drance grabs a point from the same Friedman column and runs with it – this regarding Dallas Eakins, the Toronto Marlies head coach who is a candidate for an associate job in Edmonton and the main job in Vancouver. From Dallas Eakins Will Do A Second Interview With Canucks Brass

With a number of other clubs hot on Eakins’ tail, it’s possible that the Canucks may need to ditch their usual cautious, gradualist approach to, well, everything really and secure the young coach who has impressed them.

Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • NewfoundlandOil

    I am sure that the history of coaching hires is full of stories like this, just like any hire in the real world.

    A guy who is preferred gets offered the job. Turns it down then they go to the next guy in line, who then takes it.

    No slight on the second (or third) candidate, just the way it works.

    Perhaps the Oilers dodged a bullet by not getting Moose. I am sure they wanted a guy with more experience in the NHL than Krueger, but why would they then look to Messier?

    Ultimately Krueger has more coaching experience and seems to have done an OK job.

    No drama here, lets move on. Who will be the Associate now with some NHL experience to help Krueger?

    At what point do they bring Todd Nelson in and give him a shot at the Associate/Assistant position.

    Sometime growing these guys organically is the way to go.

  • I agree it would be a big risk hiring a head coach with no experience. I would love for the Oilers to have added him as an assistant with full intentions of moving him into the head coaching role after he got some seasoning.

    Mark was a great leader and a fierce competitior and I would be shocked if he didn’t become a great head coach after he got through the learing curve.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    In my estimation Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky both would identify the same catalyst to managing a Stanley Cup team that the NewAge Hockey System would identify,and that is on-ice dynamic managerial lattitude,and to generate that special dynamic you require special relationships based on unusually strong loyalty,trust,and fully group supported functional lattitude in the decision makeing process .

    This system is Tailormade for Messier and his ability to communicate,in fact it still dynamiclly fits his perspective perfectly.

    I believe Mark Messier is a rare type of individual like many of the men we have here are,I see him understanding the optimal application of an Associate coaching position with a guarantee to get the shot after Ralph is done his tenure,whenever that is,Mark knows that to earn respect you simply need to earn tangible things players can understand so what better way when he cant play to earn that level of respect than to earn it the real tangible way?

    I believe Messier has confidence that he can earn his way into a leadership position instead of being given it,and i think that internally he would be a happier more complete man in that position having earned it in a way he himself respects.

    If we hired Messier tomorrow I would guarantee a playoff spot next year and a Stanley cup within two more.

    He is the conventionally born,and specificlly indoctrinated Intuit thanks to Wayne Gretzky that has learned how to teach other conventional thinkers the Intuitive way of understanding hockey at another elite level,communication-wise.This ability INSTANTLY fills the massive Intuitive void we are suffering,with the one of the only two influences equal to the NHS in their Intuitive Dynamic Analysis and Managment abilitys.

    I would call this the move of the Century if we pull it off.I am sure the Hockey world would be stunned and on alert immediatly,building exactly the type of identity we are looking for.

    Only Gretzky,Messier,or the NHS are going to pull the Oilers ship to the top of the league.They are all Intuitive perspective able to activate and initiate the systemic influence Kevin Lowe has held for so long in a defensive posture.And for gods sakes i could stop posting about the NHS because the Oilers will have filled the void on their own.

    Go for it Mac-T,if you analyse the situation with an open mind,you might see how Messier is the perfect fit,and that the only thing better would be Wayne as Head coach and Mark as Associate Coach,then its the NHS after that as the next best fit.

    Give me two goddam hours in a room with,Mark and Kevin,along with katz and an open line to Gretz and we will have a Dynasty catalysed in 120 minutes.Ralph does not need to be a casualty here.But if wayne and Mark would agree to become the best Tandem in the NHL again then all bets are off and we wipe the slate clean for them,and give them the keys to the kingdom.Just let that group understand how the NHS works and we are done talking and will start winning Stanley Cups.Wayne and Mark would take the NHS and weild it like Excaliber.

    The NHS belongs to those two anyways,ha ha ha,they were such major influences in its creation,it is poetic justice to think of them using it together in Edmonton to re-kindle the Dynasty.

    Mac-T,take a deep breath and exhale slowly,when you feel your shoulders start to droop a few millimeters gently pause the breath and squeeze the trigger with the same motion and pressure you use when you break those fresh hundred dollar bills apart with your right hand fingers on payday, and just let the shot go,we need you to drop this one in man.Helping Messier find God here in Edmonton with the roster we have would be considered a record NHL snipe by anyones standards.

    • Wax Man Riley

      NewAge, you mentioned once that you were banned from the Oilers message boards.

      This is why.

      Save yourself some time and come up with the NewAgePostingSys intuitively and dynamically SHORTEN YOUR POSTS OR STOP ALTOGETHER.

      • Crispy

        You have a selective memory there slap-happy.

        Get your facts straight,I challenged the Oilers site Mods to ban me and they did just that because I outright refused to be censored or have the NHS censored and to allow site managment to make luidcrous claims like”no Oilers managment or Players EVER visit or read posts on the site” so “dont post anything directed to managment or Players” or you will be punished,are you goddam kidding.Moderators posted this crap and threatened to punish anyone who posted anything to Managment or Players,what the hell??Anyone would have reacted like I did if they had any integrity at all.I asked them if they were freaking nuts,and reminded them that everyone knows that everyone surfs the net and that was the most retarded thing they could have possibly ever stated.And what exactly did they expect hockey fans to post on the site if not comments about and directed towards players and managment.I also got in trouble for advertising the NewAge Hockey System,the problem is you cant advertise a goddam idea,but the Mods didnt see it that way man,so game on again.They were part of a suppression effort,because the NHS was getting through to the managers and players and “someone”didnt like it and kiboshed me and the NewAge Hockey System,just prior to LA taking the same data and running with it and others since then doing the same thing.

        FYI you little oxygen thief,the day before the beef that resulted in the ban, I was asked by someone from the Oilers in a Private Message to my account if i would break the NewAge Hockey System and its philosophys down into a format that could be given to a large group in a 40 minute meeting because there was to much to use the way it was.I was in the process of providing that exact abbreviated version of the NHS when all hell broke loose and I stood by my principals you little Rat.The lint on my Crown Royal Bag has more integrity than you do,ha ha ha.24 more hours without any conflict on the Oilers site and you would likely be reading about the NHS on TSN and we would have the Cup LA took and likely be competing for this one still.

        My words and NHS philosophys have been repeated VER-FREAKING-BATIM on National Media to the Roster Players by Oilers Managment less than 24 hrs after they were posted on that account you mention under the name Moma2.That means there is a record of it you moron,you ought to shut the Front Door.Maybe if you did a little digging and stopped trying to incite trouble constantly you would learn something new and exciting.

        And if you are one of the troublemakers who keeps re-posting my posts and posting complaints ,bloody well stop it,I took a gander at just this entire article and it is just senseless man this stuff comprises at least 3-4x the volume I post,post your issues or complaints ,all is fair,but Jesus dont re-post those posts of mine I dont really want to see them again after writing them once.

        Half the time the nitwits complaining dont even talk hockey and the other time they waste time and space provoking people who actually do talk hockey.

        And “I” get a 300 word limit,ha ha ha.There is no justice,ha ha ha.

      • LinkfromHyrule

        Go stand about 100 yeards in front of Mac-T and when you see him holding his breath close your eyes and think about “dem Rabbits” and the Bad Man will finally stop.Ha ha ha ha ha.

  • vetinari

    I respect Messier “the leader” and “the player” but I would seriously question giving him a head coaching position without, literally, any experience at any level of hockey.

    That being said, I wonder where we would have finished in the standings with him as our coach and whether it would have resulted in Lowe joining Tambellini on the unemployment line?

    Note to Lowe– send Krueger and MacT a nice fruit basket this off season…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Even coaches now, are staying away for “family reasons”.

    Marks affiliation with Edmonton died as soon as he pulled on that Ranger jersey. He doesn’t owe Edmonton anything. I often wonder if it was the appearance fee that brought him back to Edmonton, moreso than to have his number raised to the rafters.

    I’m sure Mark probably polishes his Ranger ring a little more often than his other 5 rings. He’s all New York now. Edmonton needs to let him go.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      That’s kinda like saying Wayne Gretzky is all LA now, or Ray Bourque is all Collorado………..True…Messier is a citizen of NYC…….but the legend is all Oil Town!