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Ralph Krueger Named the Oilers New Coach


After announcing that Tom Renney would not be returning as the Oilers head coach in mid-May Steve Tambellini and the rest of the Oilers management team began an exhaustive search for the franchise's seventeenth head coach. Considering that the search took more than a month to complete the Oilers must have travelled to the corners of the earth in search of the right candidate, interviewing every professional coach that they could find along the way. Interestingly, after all of that they settled on Ralph Krueger, a man who was already employed by the team. Perhaps Tambellini misplaced his phone number.

Why this is a good move - In a word, stability. The Oilers are a very young team and changing the coach and the message every five minutes isn't helpful for their development. Take Sam Gagner for example, Krueger will be his fourth head coach in six NHL seasons and each new coach comes with a different coaching style and different expectations. Krueger may not have been the man in charge last season but he was part of the staff and was therefore part the message that the players were given. Keeping him around will minimize how much that message changes this season and should make the transition a little easier for the players. Also this opens the door to a lot more Seinfeld references.

Why this is a bad move – I can’t say for sure, but I think this decision has a lot to do with the improvement of the Oilers power play last season. Under Krueger’s direction the Oilers power play went from 27th overall and a 14.5% conversion rate to 3rd overall and a success rate of 20.6%. Unfortunately as Derek has already pointed out, the Oilers so called improved power play, and the kids affect on it, is based largely on shot quality rather than quantity and there is a very real chance the power play will regress next season unless the Oilers manage to take significantly more shots or the kids turn out to be better power play finishers than the average NHL player. If the Oilers are assuming Krueger’s success with the man advantage will translate to even strength they could be in for a rude awakening.

Why this move is ugly – As I alluded to in the first paragraph it took the Oilers over a month to settle on coach that was already within their organization. Yes the end result of the search could have been that Krueger was deemed the ideal candidate or he could have been the coach they settled on because with free agency less than a week away and the Oilers looking to speak personally with Justin Schultz this week a coach needed to be in place now. We won’t know for sure either way but the optics of this are not necessarily good.

That's how I see it. What do you think is the good, bad, or ugly?