When Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill fired Phil Housley five weeks ago, he started pursuing experienced coaching candidates.
The Sabres struggled for two seasons under Housley, a first-time head coach, so not surprisingly, Botterill wanted a veteran to lead his team.
As expected, plenty of familiar names – Jacques Martin and Dave Tippett, for example – materialized as candidates.
Then in the last week, an intriguing name began popping up: Ralph Krueger, who coached the Edmonton Oilers one season, the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Krueger, 59, will be named the Sabres’ next head coach.
Update: The Sabres have officially named Krueger coach. He will talk to the media via a conference call at 12:30 p.m. Botterill will address the media at 11 a.m. at KeyBank Center.
While Krueger lasted just 48 games in Edmonton – he compiled a 19-22-7 record – he has extensive experience. He began coaching in 1989-90 and enjoyed a successful 13-year run as Switzerland’s national team coach, coaching the country in three Olympics.
After the Oilers fired Krueger, he turned to soccer, serving as chairman of Southampton F.C., an English Premier League club, from 2014 until last month.
In 2016, Krueger coached Team Europe’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey, leading the unheralded squad to the final.
Krueger, who played professionally in Germany, was a player-coach in 1989-90. Two years later, he earned his first head coaching gig with VEU Feldkirch, an Austrian team.
He spent two seasons as an assistant with the Oilers before his brief stint as their head coach.
The Oilers fired Krueger – incredibly, former GM Craig MacTavish dismissed him during a Skype conversation – so they could hire Dallas Eakins, who lasted less than two seasons.
The Sabres interviewed seven candidates, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.
Krueger will be the 19th coach in franchise history.
After firing Lindy Ruff in his 16th season in February 2013, the Sabres burned through four coaches – Housley, Ron Rolston, Ted Nolan and Dan Bylsma – in six years. No one lasted more than two seasons.
In addition to searching for a new coach, Botterill has been running Team Canada’s entry at the World Championship in Slovakia.