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DUFFER: Krueger may offer unique perspective behind Sabres bench

Brian Duff gives his initial thoughts on the hiring of new Sabres coach Ralph Krueger

by Brian Duff @duffersabres /


Western Hockey League.

West Germany.

World Championships.

World Economic Forum.

Winter Olympics.

World Cup of Hockey.

Western New York.

For new Sabres coach Ralph Krueger, that's just a snapshot of where he's been, what he's been involved in, and where he's landed now, at age 59, for his second go-around in the NHL.

And it ends the carousel of questions - who, what, where, when, why - associated with the process of hiring someone for such a high-profile position.


The names of candidates that emerged, real or imagined, over the past five weeks were quite an array of reputations and experience levels. Ultimately, the Sabres did hire a coach with NHL experience (three seasons with Edmonton, 2010-11 through 2012-13), but someone who's been busy enough during his absence from the league that his hiring may well feel like a breath of fresh air.


What kind of coach do they need? That was seemingly the most-pressing question, and a fair one at that based on recent results. What do the Sabres have now in Krueger? Someone, who at the very least, has been lauded for his preparation and relationship-building skills to maximize individual talents within a team concept.

Video: Jason Botterill 1-on-1 talks hiring of Ralph Krueger


Where would they find the organization's 19th head coach? A portion of the fan base certainly fell in love with the idea of hiring Rikard Grönborg, the national team coach from Sweden. But with Sabres GM Jason Botterill currently moonlighting in a similar role with Team Canada at the World Championships in Slovakia, he has almost literally been scouring the world in his quest to ultimately land on Krueger. 

And it would be hard to find someone with a more diverse, well-rounded hockey and non-hockey background. Seems to be a good idea given Botterill's recent history of building the depth of the organization through European prospects.


Even though the Stanley Cup Playoffs have a ways to go, the NHL Draft is more than five weeks away, and the start of training camp is four months off, you could feel a sense of angst among the fan base that somehow the clock was ticking against them the longer this process went on. In reality, Krueger is now in place one month earlier than Phil Housley was back in 2017. 


Why Ralph Krueger? 

Now that it's official I'd have to answer with "Why not?"

The more time spent in and around this game, the more often you are reminded that no resume, no level of experience, no past accomplishments are a guarantee for future success. 

How do we know he won't be the right fit?

We don't.

What is there to like?

A lot.

In a (sports) world of copycat styles and cookie-cutter approaches, Krueger's work and life background - not to mention his beliefs - should bring something completely different to this group in terms of approach and execution.

It's needed.

And it's happening.



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