The Buffalo Sabres will introduce Ralph Krueger as the 19th head coach in franchise history today.
Sabres general manager Jason Botterill will address the media at 11 a.m. at KeyBank Center. Krueger, who’s in Europe, will speak on a conference call at 12:30 p.m.
“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,” Botterill said in a statement. “His strong communication skills, leadership and diverse background make him a uniquely qualified candidate to lead our team going forward.”
Krueger, who has a diverse resume, recently completed a five-year stint as chairman of Southampton F.C., an English Premier League club. The Winnipeg native coached the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13.
“I am excited and honored to join the Buffalo Sabres family and will strive to maximize the potential that lies within this team,” Krueger said in a statement. “I look forward to building on the many positives that have been established within the organization and I am especially eager to get behind the bench and represent this passionate hockey city.”
The Sabres fired former coach Phil Housley on April 7.
Stay tuned for more details.
Update: According to Botterill, Krueger, who’s in Europe, will join him next week when he returns to Slovakia. Botterill is running Team Canada’s entry at the World Championship. He recently returned to Buffalo.
Botterill said Krueger will meet Jack Eichel and winger Sam Reinhart, two Sabres stars who are participating in the tournament.
Krueger, according to Botterill, will be with him in Buffalo next month leading up to the draft and free agency.
More from Botterill:
On what makes Krueger, who earned praise during his long stint as Switzerland’s national team coach, the right guy:
“When (assistant GMs) Randy Sexton, Steve Greeley and myself sat down to start going over names, who we wanted to interview and who we wanted to do some background information checks on. We talked a lot of about experience, we talked about NHL experience but we also wanted to make sure we opened it up. Through this process it wasn’t always out in the media but we looked at a lot of coaches who had NHL experience but also up-and-coming young coaches. We wanted to make sure we got the right person to come in here.
“As we sat down with Ralph, we liked what he has from an NHL background, the fact he worked with Carolina as a consultant for five or six years while he was head coach with Team Switzerland. We liked the fact he was on the bench for three years in Edmonton, but we also put a lot of stock into his experience at the World Championships and the World Cup and the Olympics. Those are high-pressure situations where you have to make adjustments and you have to make quick decisions and he got results in those situations. That was impressive from our standpoint.
“When we did the follow up from talking with different players who had worked under Ralph they felt he was a very good communicator with them. That ability to get the most out of a group and communicate with a group we felt was a very good fit for our situation in Buffalo.”
Botterill said Krueger’s ability “to get the most out of his group” helped make him an intriguing candidate.
“I was at the 2006 Olympics in Torino watching my sister play. I was in the building when (Krueger’s) Team Switzerland knocked off Team Canada. That was a shocking upset, and I think the biggest sign of respect is eight years later, and Team Canada was putting together its 2014 Olympic team, they wanted Ralph to be a part of that. They wanted to utilize him as a resource.
“The coaches that were on that staff, that’s a very impressive staff. I think that’s also going to allow Ralph to make that adjustment to the National Hockey League that much quicker, because he’s kept (those) relationships with all those coaches. You look at that team in 2014, you look at all the coaches he’s interacted with with Team Europe, he’s kept that dialogue with them. And sometimes when you’re not working in the National Hockey League, people actually talk to you a lot more and give you a lot more advice. I think he’s actually learned a lot from those interactions over the last couple years.”
Another update: Krueger, who also spoke to the Sabres two years ago, on why he accepted the job:
“First and foremost was the very natural communication getting together with Jason Botterill. I think when you look at this point in my career, it’s extremely important to the people I’m going to be working with, for. When Jason and I began the conversation a couple years ago, it just had a natural flow to it, and when we picked it up – at that point I when I was deciding to move back to the game of hockey – he really embodied a lot of the things that I care about, his culture that he’s driving. …
When I then met (owner) Terry and Kim Pegula a few weeks ago, the culture at the top was confirmed.”
Krueger on why be believes the Sabres, who have become one of the league’s laughingstocks, can quickly become contenders:
“The parity in the National Hockey League is what makes the league so great. Where Buffalo has been and where we’re going to go, it’s percentage points that make the difference. It’s getting those percentage points right. I believe that all great players and developing players need some pain to understand the complete game that’s necessary to be a success in the National Hockey League. I think (some of the Sabres’ core players) especially the young ones, had that experience, whether it was last year or the last few years.
“I think that I’m at heart, of course, an optimistic coach and an optimistic person, but I don’t believe I’m a dreamer. I believe I’m a realist and I’m looking at what I see here. I know we’re going to work hard through the summer to add some pieces and to make some adjustments on the roster. Only time will tell. I don’t want to make any big promises here. The only one I will make is I will do everything within my power to find out what this group is made of pretty quickly and to get us into that competitive space for much longer than the team was able to get into last season.”