The Buffalo Sabres announced Wednesday morning that the team has hired Ralph Krueger as Head Coach, becoming the 19th Head Coach in franchise history.
Krueger brings with him only one season of lockout-shortened NHL coaching experience, where he led the Edmonton Oilers to a 19-22-7 record while missing the playoffs. He does, however, have experience coaching internationally, as he was the Head Coach of the Swiss Men’s National Team from 1997 to 2010. Most notably, he coached Team Europe to a second place finish in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
What Krueger may lack in NHL experience, he certainly makes up for with his intangibles and coaching tactics. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Krueger’s style of coaching is how modernized his approach is. Krueger thrives off of communication with his players, which in today’s NHL is vital to team success. If you’re not communicating on a certain level with the players, odds are your tenure won’t be long. Krueger is also known for being a positive thinker, as well as a great motivator. The latter will be a welcome change in Western New York, as it seems to have been lacking at the reigns of previous bench bosses.
One aspect of Krueger’s coaching that should stand out to Sabres fans is his ability to coach an above average power-play. During his stint in Edmonton, he took a sub-par roster and turned them into the league’s eighth-ranked power-play. It’s going to be quite interesting to see what he can do with the likes of Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin, and Victor Olofsson once October rolls around.
With all of Krueger’s experience, coupled with his hockey knowledge, it will hopefully prove to be a great hire in the seasons to come. The intangibles seem to be there, as does the focus on analytics that has been at the forefront of the game the past few years. During his time as Chairman of Southampton in the English Premier League, he helped establish an Analytics and Recruitment Department, which gave them the opportunity to scout any specific player, team, or game worldwide, at any time. With any luck, he’ll be able to channel some of that knowledge into the Sabres in the seasons to come, and stock up an already impressive prospect pool.
Of course it’s way too early to tell whether or not Krueger is the savior the Sabres are in dire need of, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Welcome to Buffalo, Ralph Krueger!