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Who Is Ralph Krueger?

"I think people in Buffalo are really going to love him."

May 15, 2019 - 4:39 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - On Wednesday, third-year General Manager Jason Botterill officially announced Ralph Krueger as the 19th head coach in franchise history.

"Ralph is a great communicator and has a history of being a strong leader," said Botterill. "He's has the opportunity to be a head coach in the National Hockey League, World Championships, World Cup and Olympics."

Listen to Botterill's full press conference below:

Krueger is has certainly not taken the most conventional route to becoming the bench boss for the Sabres. He began his coaching career in Germany with EV Duisburg, but he then moved to Austria, where he took over VEU Feldkirch and won five straight championships between 1994-1998 and subsequently was named as the head coach of Switzerland's national team.

Before Krueger was hired as an assistant coach for the Edmonton Oilers in 2010, he served as a scouting consultant for the Carolina Hurricanes. Before the beginning of the 2012-2013 (the lockout-shortened season), the Oilers promoted Krueger to head coach, but he was relieved of his duties after just one season.

In 2014, Krueger stepped away from hockey and ventured overseas to England, where he became the director of Southampton of the Premiere League. He was later appointed as chairman of the club until his dismissal in April of this year. During his time with Southampton, Krueger remained somewhat involved in hockey as he was selected to coach Team Europe for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Longtime Sabre and fan favorite Tomas Vanek played for Team Europe in the tournament, and he joined The Instigators to discuss his former coach.

"He's highly respected, and I've known that for 30 years now," said Vanek. "He's by far the best motivator I've ever had to deal me, he's one of the best people I've ever met in my lifetime....I think people in Buffalo are really going to love him."

It was rumored that Krueger's return to the NHL would only be in a front office type of role, but Botterill says the conversation with Krueger was strictly about becoming the coach.

Of course, Krueger has his work cut out for him. The Sabres haven't made the playoffs, and haven't been particularly close, in eight seasons, and last year, despite their early 10-game winning streak, were the worst team in the NHL after January 1.

However, he says he's gone over the roster extensively, and he feels good about the core and their capabilities.

"I've looked at this roster very deeply, and I'm going to begin by meeting Jack [Eichel> and Sam [Reinhart> next week in Slovakia and continue to the process of getting to know the players through the summer," said Krueger. "It's up to me to figure out how I can help them add percentage points to their individual game, and if we get those right, I think the next step will be there for us."

Botterill discussed Krueger's communication abilities, which are noted to be among his strengths, and said connecting to the younger core will be a large part of the job.

"I don't want to make any big promises here, but one that I will make is that I will do everything within my power to find out what this group is made of very quickly and to get us into that competitive pace for much longer than the team was able to get into last season," said Krueger.

And it appears that Krueger has gone undercover in Buffalo, as he went about scouting his new home.

"This is a really good mix," said Krueger. "I think that above all, this group is ready to become a contender and to compete with anybody on a given night. I'm confident that we can become that kind of team quite quickly."

Listen to Krueger's entire conference call below:

Listen to Krueger's conversation with Schoop & the Bulldog

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