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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Ralph Krueger steps down after six years as chairman of Southhampton FC

Former Edmonton Oilers head coach, Ralph Krueger, is making news this morning after it was announced that he is leaving his position as Chairman of Southhampton FC after six years with the club. The timing of the news has led some Oilers fans to wonder if a return could be in his future.

In case you don’t remember because all of the coaches being fired have started to blend together, Ralph Krueger was behind the Oilers’ bench during the abbreviated 2012-13 season before being let go via Skype by Craig MacTavish. Krueger was known as an effective communicator, motivator, and seemed to be what our young team needed as it worked to find its way. After Krueger’s first and only season, MacT was supposed to be looking for experienced assistant coaches to help him along, but, instead, fell for Dallas Eakins’ hair flips and intense gaze and decided that he would be the voice of the future. Ralph Krueger was done after only 48 games.

At the time, many Oilers fans thought the firing was unnecessary, strange, and all kinds of shady given that it happened over Skype and that Krueger had seemed to be moving things in the right direction. And, as we all know, the Eakins experiment failed miserably and the Oilers’ revolving door of coaches has more or less continued ever since. In early April, Pierre LeBrun spoke to Krueger and reported that he would certainly be open to a return to hockey, but more likely in an executive role rather than behind the bench. As it turns out, the Edmonton Oilers have a POHO position available that’s just waiting to be filled which makes the timing of this announcement very interesting.

From the interview:

“If you spoke about hockey with me now, I would probably tend more to one day take the experiences of being a chairman/president of a Premier League team and possibly back into the game of hockey or other sports. The one thing I’ve learned, it’s not really sport-relevant. But it’s really clear hockey still has a special place in my heart.”

Known as a motivator, cultivator of culture, and all-around communicator, Ralph Krueger is the type of personality that the Oilers need in their organization. They need someone that’s open to fresh ideas with managerial experience that can deliver a message effectively without seeming condescending and, to me, that’s Ralph Krueger. The obvious question, though, is whether or not the team would be interested or if Krueger would even be open to returning to the team that played him. Given the way things ended, I wouldn’t be surprised if Krueger looks at the situation in Edmonton as a hard pass and I don’t think anyone around here would blame him for it. That said, wouldn’t it be interesting if he rolled into town and ended up gassing the people that thought he couldn’t handle the job?

At this point, there’s nothing more to this story than interesting timing, but I do believe that it would certainly be in the Oilers best interest to investigate the situation a little bit. With other teams looking for help at the executive level, you know that Krueger will be getting his share of opportunities and I’m just saying that it would be smart to kick a few tires to see what’s going on. By no means am I saying that Krueger as POHO would be the key that unlocks greatness, but it would certainly be a move that supports Bob Nicholson’s promise to increase the communication surrounding this organization. If you remember, Krueger had a way with the media in his time here and that’s an asset that would serve him well in this town, especially given the way they’ve bumbled their way through their last few pressers.

My question for you guys is whether or not you think given Krueger a call makes sense for the Oilers, or if that ship has sailed and there’s no point in talking about it? What say you, Nation?

The Southhampton release:

Following recent talks with shareholders Mr Gao and Katharina Liebherr, it was agreed by all parties that Ralph’s contract would not be extended beyond its end date of June 30th.

The shareholders and everyone involved with the club would like to put on record their thanks for Ralph’s leadership, dedication and hard work over his six years with Southampton.

At the end of the season the club will release more information about the future leadership structure. However, for now, all our efforts and focus are on a strong finish to the season and remaining within the Premier League.