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Oilers fire coach Krueger, reportedly eye Eakins @NHLdotcom

Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish announced Saturday the team has fired coach Ralph Krueger. No replacement was immediately named.

"This was about me making a decision where I thought this was the best decision for the betterment of the club," MacTavish said. "We're very close with a coaching candidate, but at this point we haven't formalized the deal."

Reports say the Oilers' new coach will be Dallas Eakins, who is the coach of the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League.

In Krueger's lone season as Edmonton's coach, he went 19-22-7, and the Oilers finished third in the Northwest Division and 12th in the Western Conference. They have not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006, when they reached the Final.

The new coach will be the Oilers' fourth since the start of the 2009 season (Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Krueger). MacTavish was the coach from 2000-09, and was appointed GM on April 14.

Krueger inherited a team featuring a number of promising young players, including Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov. After opening the 2012-13 season with a 3-2 shootout victory at the Vancouver Canucks, the hopes around Edmonton were that the Oilers might return to the playoffs for the first time since losing the Final to the Carolina Hurricanes.

But the young club could not keep up with expectations, opening March with five straight losses before closing the season 3-9-0 and missing the playoffs by 10 points.

As MacTavish addressed the media, he admitted the decision to fire Krueger began with an effort to add to the staff behind the bench. That admission hints that Edmonton could be very close to announcing Krueger's successor.

Eakins also is a candidate to fill the coaching vacancy with the Canucks, Dallas Stars or New York Rangers.

"Ralph and I at the end of the year spent the better part of a week discussing that we would add a veteran assistant coach or associate coach," MacTavish said. "During the process of me conducting those interviews, I recognized I was trying to add a coach that was more closely aligned with the way I wanted to run the team and less about supporting Ralph in the head-coaching role. It was at that point when I contemplated making the change if, in my opinion, I found the ideal fit for our hockey club."

MacTavish said the future of assistants Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith would be decided by the new coach.

Krueger was an associate coach with the Oilers for two seasons before being named the team's 11th coach last June. Prior to that, he served as coach and general manager of VEU Feidkirch in Austria's premier league from 1991 to 1998. He also served as a European consultant for the Carolina Hurricanes from 2005-10 and was coach of the Swiss national team from 1997-2010, participating in 12 IIHF World Championship tournaments and two Olympic Games.

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