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Krueger named head coach of Buffalo Sabres

By: Terry Frey

Posted: 05/16/2019 12:12 PM

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Steinbach native Ralph Krueger, regarded as one of the top coaches in international hockey, has been named the new head coach of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.

This is the second go-round as an NHL head coach for Krueger, after a one-year stint as the head man of the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13, and was also an assistant coach with the Oilers for two years before being named head coach.

It should be noted that the struggling Oilers have had seven head coaches in the last decade and Krueger was just one of those to have had a short-lived tenure behind the bench of the losing franchise.

The Buffalo Sabres have also had their share of coaching changes in recent years as well, as Krueger becomes the sixth Buffalo head coach in the last half dozen years.

There was another local connection to the Sabres’ coaching ranks in recent years as St. Malo’s Dan Lambert, now the head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Flyers, was an assistant coach of the Sabres in the 2015-16 season.

Krueger, 59, is considered one of the leading hockey minds in the game.

He played one year of junior hockey in the WHL with the Calgary Wranglers, garnering 95 points in 76 games before playing seven years of pro hockey in Europe playing in the top Bundesliga division as he accumulated 373 points in 350 games, including 187 goals.

Then he turned to coaching, in what has been an illustrious international career, first in Austria, where he led his team to five straight Austrian championships in the 1990’s and then began a long run as the head coach of the Swiss national team program. He had much success with the Swiss program, developing them into world contenders, which included taking them to the Olympic Games in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

He has become a sought after consultant with various national programs and professional teams from around the world while also becoming a noted motivational speaker and author, principally in Europe.

Krueger’s career took a surprising turn five years ago when he became Chairman of Southampton F.C., one of the top Premier League soccer teams in England.

Now back in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, Krueger takes over from former Winnipeg Jet great Phil Housley, who guided the Sabres the past two seasons.

In announcing the hiring of Krueger, Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill (another Winnipeg native) told Sabres.com, "Throughout his career, Ralph has shown the ability to adapt to a variety of high-pressure environments while leading some of the world’s elite players. His strong communication skills, leadership and diverse background make him a uniquely qualified candidate to lead out team going forward."

Krueger, in comments posted on the team website, said, "I am excited and honoured to join the Buffalo Sabres family and will strive to maximize the potential that lies within this team. I look forward to building on the many positives that have been established within the organization and I am especially eager to get behind the bench and represent this passionate hockey city."

Ralph Krueger becomes the 19th head coach in Buffalo Sabres history. The Sabres finished sixth in the Atlantic Division last season and out of the playoff picture with a record of 33-39-10.

 

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