The search is over for the Buffalo Sabres. They have reportedly hired Ralph Kruger as the new head coach according to Bob McKenzie of TSN.
As @FriedgeHNIC first suggested/speculated, Ralph Krueger will indeed be named the next head coach in BUF.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 15, 2019
Krueger last coached in the NHL during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. That year, he led the Edmonton Oilers to a 19-22-7 record and a seat outside of the playoff picture. Despite a relatively successful run with a lot of young talent, he was unceremoniously fired over Skype in favor of Dallas Eakins. Before taking over as the Oilers head coach, he did spend time as an assistant in 2010. During that season, he helped turn one of the worst power plays in the league to one of the best. As head coach, his special teams’ units both ranked in the top third in the entire league despite missing the playoffs.
He has spent the last five years as the Chairman of the Southampton Football Club. Now, Krueger will be tasked with leading a team that has not qualified for playoff contention for nine seasons and one that finished 13th in the Eastern Conference with 76 points last season.
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It is an interesting hire for Sabres’ General Manager Jason Botterill whose fate it presumably tied to this hire. Most assumed after first-time head coach Phil Housley failed to pan out that the Sabres and Botterill would look to hire a more experienced bench boss to help guide Buffalo back to a respectable standing among the fans. That, apparently, is not the case.
Krueger’s most recent high-level hockey head coaching experience came as the coach of Team Europe during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. To his credit, he helped lead that team to the Championship Game against Team Canada. However, they would ultimately lose to the star-studded cast led by coach Mike Babcock. He does, however, have plenty of International Hockey experience leading Team Switzerland through 15 tournaments over a span of more than a decade.