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Canada adds Krueger to help with bigger ice

by Dan Rosen

CALGARY -- Ralph Krueger's extensive experience coaching teams on the larger international ice surface helped the former Edmonton Oilers coach land a job on Mike Babcock's staff for the 2014 Canada Men's Olympic team.

Krueger, who coached the Oilers last season, has been hired by Hockey Canada to serve as an adviser to the coaching staff that will represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, when the tournament will be played on rinks that are 15-feet wider than they are in North America. Krueger is from Manitoba but played and coached in Europe for three decades before joining the Oilers staff as an associate coach in 2010.

Claude Julien, Ken Hitchcock and Lindy Ruff are Babcock's assistant coaches.

"We brought Ralph on board because he knows way more about the big ice than we do," Babcock said. "The bottom line is, we don't want to be making decisions over there because we got backed off because something went wrong. For example, Claude is responsible for our penalty kill. He was asking Ralph this morning, 'Can we pressure that hard?' No one knows better than him."

Krueger was coach of the Swiss National team from 1997-2010 and for each of the past three Olympics, finishing as high as sixth in 2006. Switzerland took Canada into a shootout in a preliminary-round game in 2010 before losing 3-2.

Krueger will fill a scouting role for Babcock's staff and fill them in on the nuances of coaching on the bigger ice.

"How can you not be excited about being a part of the best hockey country in the world?" Krueger said.

Krueger met with Babcock and his assistants in New York prior to the 2013 NHL Draft in June. Steve Yzerman, who is Canada's executive director for the second straight Olympics, said Babcock asked Krueger to speak.

"He brought a lot of good information to the staff," Yzerman said. "It was all agreed upon by the staff that that would be a welcome addition."

Rick Nash, one of 46 players participating in orientation camp, lived next to Krueger when the forward played for HC Davos in the Swiss National League A in 2004-05.

"I got to know him well and what he did with that [Swiss] program it speaks for itself," Nash said. "It's good to have him on our side now."


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