Oilers are set to name Ralph Krueger as head coach


The Oilers have always been a team that works by their own beat and never adhering to what’s expected of them. You can say the same of them when it comes to picking a head coach as well.

While many expected Edmonton to hire former Flames and Devils head coach Brent Sutter to be their new bench boss, it appears they’ll be going with their own assistant coach Ralph Krueger for the job instead according to John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal.

Krueger is best known for his work in coaching Switzerland from 1997 to 2010 and taking the Swiss to a fourth place finish at the world championships in 1998. His work internationally led him to be Tom Renney’s assistant in Edmonton and now to being the top guy.

Krueger now gets to try and figure out how to lead the very young Oilers to being a playoff team once again and rise from the ashes of mediocrity that saw Edmonton turn into a team that picked first overall three years in a row. It’s a fine situation for Krueger to make a name for himself if he can.

Update (10:54 a.m. ET): Oilers make it official, name Krueger as head coach.

Marc Crawford is gracious after losing out on Habs position


When the Canadiens announced the hiring of Michel Therrien as their new head coach, that left potential suitors like Marc Crawford and Patrick Roy left in the cold. For Crawford, he took losing out on the job pretty well as he expressed via Twitter this morning.


Crawford may now turn his attention toward the Edmonton Oilers as they’re still in the hunt for a new coach. The Oilers parted ways with Tom Renney weeks ago and have yet to fill the position. As for the Washington Capitals and their vacant head coaching job, it’s not believed Crawford is in the hunt to try and lead Alex Ovechkin’s squad.

After a season away from coaching, Crawford pressed hard for the job in Montreal, but it’s clear he’s got the itch to get back behind the bench.

Oilers GM on coaching change: “Expectations will increase”

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After inspiring columns about procrastination, Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini decided to fire head coach Tom Renney. Tambellini discussed his decision to part ways with Renney and what he qualities he’s looking for in their next bench boss.

First, on ousting Renney and changing the culture in Edmonton:

“Tom’s done some great things for our hockey club … But we felt it was the right decision to make a change. We’re entering a new phase for our hockey club,” Tambellini said. “We need to get to a different level of compete where we’re competing for playoff spots. Expectations will increase.”

Ah, the “compete level” line. I’m starting to think that “compete level” is the NHL executives’ answer to a CEO talking about “thinking outside the box.”*

The most important question for the Oilers is: what’s next? Tambellini said that he hopes to get a new coach in place before the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, where the Oilers will have the first pick for the third consecutive year (barring a trade).

“There are a few people we have interest in; I would hope to have something in place prior to the draft,” Tambellini said. “The people who are here right now need to be a lot better on a consistent basis.”

Does that include Tambellini?

Anyway, feel free to share your thoughts on who would be the right fit for the Oilers.

(Personally, I think Michel Therrien might be an underrated pick. He took an unshaped mass of potential in Pittsburgh and brought them to the Stanley Cup finals, showing them “how to play defense” along the way. That’s the biggest deficit in Edmonton right now, so perhaps he would serve as a good “bridge” from cellar dweller to contender status. That’s just my take, though.)

Here’s video of the presser:

* – Do people still say that?

Update: Oilers stop procrastinating, part ways with Renney


Literally seconds after I profiled Jim Matheson’s “What are the Oilers doing with Tom Renney?” piece in the Edmonton Journal, the club announced Renney was out as head coach:


Renney will finishing his two-year tenure as head coach with a 57-85-22 record and back-to-back last place finishes in the Northwest Division (the team finished 29th overall in 2011-12, 30th in 2010-11.)

No word yet on the status of associate coach Ralph Kruger or assistants Steve Smith, Kelly Buchberger and Fred Chabot.

As for potential Renney replacements? Don’t be surprised to hear former Calgary Flames bench boss Brent Sutter’s name in the mix. Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun floated the idea in mid-April:

One day after “mutually” deciding to end his three years with the Flames, Brent Sutter will, in fact, be behind a bench this spring as head coach of the Canadian entry in next month’s world championships.

While it is no doubt a great opportunity to bolster his stellar international coaching resume, it also may also act as an audition of sorts. After all, Team Canada’s GM is Edmonton Oilers President of Hockey Ops Kevin Lowe, and the Oilers will very likely be in need of a new head coach soon.

Also worth noting that Team Canada was loaded with Oilers — Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Devan Dubnyk (Sutter coached the Nuge in Red Deer two seasons ago, too.)

Columnist: Oilers can’t procrastinate on coaching decision much longer

Over at the Edmonton Journal, Jim Matheson takes issue with how Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is handling the fate of head coach Tom Renney.

Renney’s contact expires on June 30, along with those of staff coaches Ralph Krueger, Steve Smith, Kelly Buchberger and Fred Chabot.

According to Matheson, the group has been left twisting in the wind for far too long.

The Oilers’ season ended April 7. It’s now May 17. If you start the clock on April 8, the day after the final league game in Vancouver, this is now 40 days Renney has been waiting. There is due diligence and there are other things on a GM’s plate–I get that– but I think it’s disrespectful to keep a good man who has coached almost 600 NHL games hanging this long.

Renney has not talked publicly about his situation since the players dispersed on April 9. Tambellini talked the next day to the media and said Renney was “his coach now.”  He said they would be having a sit-down to talk about the season past and the direction the club would be going in 2012-2013. Have they had such a meeting? I don’t know. I do know that the coaches are still in the dark.

Chief among Matheson’s complaints is that, by not telling the coaches what the future has in store, the Oilers are preventing them from finding other jobs, and there are other jobs out there. Head coaching gigs in Washington, Calgary and Montreal; assistant/associate positions in Chicago, San Jose, Columbus and Long Island.

That said, you can’t totally blame Tambellini for taking his time. The Oilers are entering a crucial stage — this will be year three for Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and (amazingly) year six for Sam Gagner — and after three straight sub-75 point seasons, people want to see results from a series of high draft picks. Ergo, he needs to make the right coaching decision.

Which is why Edmonton might be on the fence about Renney. While you can’t blame the last three years on him, you can’t exactly say he overachieved — something you can say of AHL Oklahoma City head coach Todd Nelson, who has the Barons in the Calder Cup semifinals.

Just throwing that one out there.