Shortly after becoming the 11th head coach in franchise history, Ralph Krueger spoke publicly about being named bench boss of the Edmonton Oilers.
The prevailing theme? Excitement.
“We have skill in our room that’s so exciting, and I need to find a way for their instincts and natural ability to lead us to winning,” Krueger said. “I can’t imagine a better city. This is a premier hockey city in the world. I’m excited about everything to come.”
Taking over from Tom Renney, Krueger inherits a young, talent-laden squad that recently added Nail Yakupov to a forward group featuring Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky. The prospect of having such a skilled top six wasn’t lost on the new coach, who was already thinking of line combinations.
“Nail may be playing on the left or right side, maybe Taylor in the middle,” Krueger explained. “The combinations are nothing but exciting.”
Krueger’s excitement about coaching such a young team is likely why the Oilers pegged him for the job. At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, he was in charge of a Swiss team that leaned heavily on youngsters like Roman Josi (20), Luca Sbisa (20), Yannick Weber (21) and Rafael Diaz (24).
That Swiss team fought hard in two tight losses to the U.S. and took Canada to a shootout in the opening round, displaying the we-can-play-with-anyone mentality the Oilers will need to adopt if they plan on climbing out of the Western Conference basement.
Krueger sounded ready to accept the challenge.
“I just want to start working on a daily basis,” he said. “I have trust in the management to take care of the big picture. I’m ready.”