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Get to know Ralph Krueger

New coach brings distinctive experience set to Buffalo

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Ralph Krueger was announced as the 19th coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, the culmination of a path that began in 1989 with his appointment as a player-coach in Germany and has since seen stops on the international stage, at the NHL level and, most recently, in professional soccer. 

"Throughout his career, Ralph has shown the ability to adapt to a variety of high-pressure environments while leading some of the world's elite players," Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill said. "His strong communication skills, leadership and diverse background make him a uniquely qualified candidate to lead our team going forward."

Botterill will meet the media to discuss the hire at 11 a.m. In the meantime, let's answer some of your questions about the Sabres' new coach. 


Where has he been? 

Krueger has been away from the NHL for the past five seasons, having worked in the meantime as chairman for the Southampton Football Club of the English Premier League. Oh, and he's also a published speaker on leadership tactics who has done work with the World Economic Forum. 

As multi-faceted as his background is, hockey remains at the heart of his resume. He cut his teeth coaching in Austria, leading VEU Feldkirch to five straight championships from 1994 to 1998. His success earned him the job as head coach for Switzerland's national team, a title he held for over a decade. 

Krueger led the Swiss to three Olympic appearances, then joined the NHL for a three-year stint with the Edmonton Oilers (two as an associate, one as head coach). He later served as a consultant for Team Canada during its gold medal run at the 2014 Olympic Games.

Most recently, Krueger coached Team Europe - a melting pot of players from eight European countries - to a runner-up finish at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. 

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

Read more on Krueger:

What has been said about his coaching philosophy?

Here's what Krueger told the Edmonton Journal back in 2012: "One of the beauties of the coaching profession is you need to have goals and visions that are larger, but more than anything it's about what you do on a day-to-day basis. I'm really into small pictures and details and high quality and making sure that we're efficient in the moment. The management will take care of the big picture.

"What strong coaching does is allow the instincts of the players to flourish, to flow naturally. That's going to be one of the biggest challenges, with all the skill we have, bringing them together on one page on the defensive side of the game, but allowing them the freedom to flow and to be dynamic and exciting offensively."

Krueger has also emphasized catering strategy to personnel throughout his career. 

"A head coach must develop a strategy to win that is in line with the tools and skill level at his disposal," he said in 2012. "If you have offensive skill you can attack; if not, rely on defense and counter punching."

Video: Ralph Krueger on The Instigators

Wait, did you say he was published?

Yes. He wrote his book Teamlife: Over Setbacks to Success in 2001, a best-seller in Germany. He described the book to The Guardian as being about "lifestyle habits for winners."

In fact, Krueger seems to be universally respected for his communication and leadership abilities. He's served as a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on new models of leadership and was tasked with culture building at Southampton despite having not worked in the sport prior. 

He described his time with the World Economic Forum to Southampton's official website in 2014.  

"I was working on leadership models," he said. "I was working with corporate groups and charity groups and all kinds of different levels of organizations at the World Economic Forum to try and figure out what is the best way to lead the group and how teams truly can find success. I define success as getting to your potential."

He's brought those skills to the rink, too. Here's what former Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said to USA Today during the World Cup in 2016: "I can't say enough good things about him. He is focused on keeping everyone's confidence up and everybody's head right, believing in yourself and the group. We've come together as a team."

Detroit forward Frans Nielsen echoed the sentiment in that same story.  

"He showed how smart he is," Nielsen told the website. "He sees what kind of players and potential he has on his team and he builds his system around that."

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