NHL.com will periodically be doing a series called "Five Questions With …," a Q&A with some of the key movers and shakers in the game today aimed to gain some insight into their lives and careers.
This edition features Edmonton Oilers coach Ralph Krueger:
Most coaches follow a somewhat similar path to the area behind the bench in the National Hockey League.
Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger isn't like most coaches. He stopped dreaming about the NHL long before he finally got his chance to work here.
Instead of playing in North America and catching on with a franchise somewhere as an assistant coach, Krueger went to Germany as a 20-year-old and spent the next three decades in Europe learning the game, dissecting the sport as if it were a science project and developing an impeccable list of contacts, including the group of Oilers executives who eventually brought him to the NHL.
Two-and-a-half years ago, when Tom Renney, Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini hired Krueger to be an assistant under Renney, the only official ties he had to the NHL were the few players who played for him on the Swiss national team and the five years he served in a minor consulting role with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Krueger coached in Germany and Austria before landing in Switzerland as the coach of a national team ranked 15th in the world in 2000 by the International Ice Hockey Federation. Krueger had the Swiss up to No. 7 by the time he left in 2010.
He was promoted by the Oilers this summer to take over for Renney.
"People say, 'Well, you've waited 23 years for this,'" Krueger told NHL.com. "No, no, no. I didn't wait 23 years for this, it just evolved this way."
How did it evolve? Why did it take Krueger until he was 51 years old to break into the NHL? What does he think about the task in front of him now?
Read on for the answers.