It may have taken the Edmonton Oilers much longer than everyone expected, but they’ve finally filled the head coaching vacancy that Tom Renney left after he was relieved of his duties at the end of this season. Instead of bringing in a new face to help cultivate the cornucopia of talent the Oilers currently possess, GM Steve Tambellini decided to promote assistant coach Ralph Krueger to head coach of the Oilers.
Krueger, who joined the Oilers staff in 2010 under coach Renney, has also been a head coach for teams in Germany and Switzerland and was the coach of the Swiss National Team before coming to Edmonton. He may not have the most experience, but he is familiar with the players and the system set up in Edmonton, a system that Krueger claims will function off of hard work and dedication.
“A winning culture grows out of a culture of excellence,” Krueger said at a press conference Wednesday morning. “We’re going to be extremely detail-focused. From the summer training that’s going on right now, we’ll communicate with the players as much as possible to support them. We want to be known as a hard-working team on and off the ice—a very disciplined team. The winning will come as a byproduct of that.
“Our natural ability will lead us to winning. The winning is a byproduct, not a focus. The focus will be excellence; it will be our execution, our practices. You won’t come to a practice where you see us, in any way shape or form, compromising our quality. Every practice, on or off the ice, will be at the highest possible level and winning will naturally be a byproduct of the time we put it in.”
That all looks good on paper, but Oilers fans have heard this spiel for the last few seasons. But there can’t be any more excuses—it’s got to be playoffs or bust for Edmonton. The Oilers have now had the No. 1 overall pick for the last three drafts and this team, albeit still young, needs to step up and once again become a competitive NHL franchise.