by Lisa McRitchie on 06/27/12 at 12:20 PM ET
In the end it wasn’t that big of a surprise, but more of a relief that the speculations could end. Wednesday morning the Edmonton Oilers have announced the naming of their head coach, former associate coach Ralph Krueger.
With the naming of Krueger the team can finally focus on their game plan for trying to land UFAs like Just Shultz. True, the Oilers are far from the only team looking to land this big fish, but with a coach in place the team may stand a fighting chance. From all accounts, Schultz is looking to go to a team where he can play top minutes and earn that big contract.
Krueger, 52, becomes the Oilers’ 11th Head Coach in club history after joining the team as an Associate Coach on July 30, 2010. He played a major role in the vast improvement of the Oilers’ special teams in 2011-12. Under his guidance, the powerplay was ranked 3rd overall in the NHL and the penalty-kill, 14th.
Krueger, who was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, brings with him a wealth of experience as a Head Coach in Germany and Switzerland, in addition to leading the Oilers for five games with a 2-3-0 record last season.
Prior to joining the Oilers, Krueger was most recently the Head Coach of the Swiss National Team. During his tenure from 1997-2010, he advanced the Swiss National Team Program from 15th to 7th in the IIHF World Rankings.
Because Krueger was the associate coach under Tom Renney, I can’t help but wonder how much differently things will work out. Surely Krueger is his own man and will make his own decisions, but Krueger worked well with Renney and as far as we know didn’t have major disagreements over coaching ideas.
But hopefully this will be enough of a change to see a few more Oiler wins, especially if GM Steve Tambellini can give Krueger a team with more talent. By letting defenceman Cam Barker walk, and drafting Nail Yakupov however, it already is.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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