Keep an eye on Ralph Krueger

April 12, 2019

In a piece I wrote a few days back, I listed Ralph Krueger as one of five out-of-the-box coach candidates the Sabres should consider. The problem was, Krueger had a top job in soccer as the chairman of Southampton Football Club. It seemed like a stretch, until this little news item dropped Friday morning.

#SaintsFC can confirm that Chairman Ralph Krueger has departed the club.

Read the full statement:

— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) April 12, 2019

Now, Krueger is available. He's discussed wanting to return to the NHL, but likely in an executive role. Although, Krueger wouldn't rule out returning to coach.

Two years ago, Jason Botterill reportedly reached out to Krueger in his first coach search. That obviously didn't come to fruition and we ended up with Phil Housley. If Botterill had interest in 2017, the Sabres have no head coach, and Krueger is available, it's not hard to connect the dots. The only thing standing in the way, might be Krueger's desire to coach.

For the Sabres, it's an intriguing idea. Krueger is widely respected as one of the smarter men in hockey. Despite that, he doesn't have some incredible resume. He's coached just 48 games in the NHL. In a lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, Krueger and the Edmonton Oilers had just a 19-22-7 record. Good for 24th place in the NHL, ten points out of a playoff spot.

Krueger's greatest accomplishments in hockey have come on international ice. In the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Krueger coached arguably the least talented team, Team Europe, to the finals. He took the island of misfit European hockey players to a championship series with Canada.

He also coached the Swiss National Team from 1998 to 2010. He worked as a scout for the Carolina Hurricanes. Krueger was named a special advisor to Team Canada in 2014. He then became the chairman of Southampton in the English Premier League, where he's worked for the last five years. This guy must be good at something, considering all the opportunities he's had doing different things. 

The timing of Krueger leaving Southampton makes me think he's interested in a head coach gig. His contract didn't expire with Southampton until June 30th. Why depart now? It very well could be that Krueger made himself available now, because several teams in the NHL need a head coach.

With the interest from Jason Botterill two years ago, it's not insane to think Ralph Krueger could be the next head coach of the Buffalo Sabres.