Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres hiring Ralph Krueger as head coach

AP Published 10:58 p.m. ET May 14, 2019 | Updated 12:58 a.m. ET May 15, 2019

BUFFALO – The Buffalo Sabres are hoping Ralph Krueger can turn around the once-proud franchise in the midst of an eight-year playoff drought.

A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that the Sabres have hired Krueger as coach. The person spoke to the AP on Tuesday night on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the hiring. Canada’s SportsNet first reported the move.

Krueger, 59, previously coached the Edmonton Oilers during the NHL’s lockout-shortened season in 2012-13. Krueger has vast coaching experience, including with Switzerland’s national team.

He returns to the NHL after spending the past five years as chairman of soccer’s Southampton F.C. of the English Premier League. Krueger was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and played hockey professionally in Germany from 1979 to ‘91.

Ralph Krueger will be the new coach of the Buffalo Sabres.

Ralph Krueger will be the new coach of the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo: Dan Hamilton, USA TODAY Sports)

Krueger replaces Phil Housley, who was fired after just two seasons, including this past year when Buffalo won just 16 of its final 57 games following a 10-game winning streak in November. It finished 13th in the Eastern Conference standings.

Krueger’s experience includes coaching Team Europe to second at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He also served as a special adviser to Canada’s national team when it won gold at the 2014 Sochi Games.

He’s known for being an innovator in hockey strategies as well as developing young talent.

Krueger’s hiring allows general manager Jason Botterill to turn his attention to the Sabres’ next most pressing offseason need, and that’s making a bid to re-sign forward Jeff Skinner before he enters the free-agent market on July 1.

Skinner was acquired in a trade with Carolina in August, and scored a career-best and team-leading 40 goals in 82 games last season.

Though Skinner and the Sabres have engaged in contract talks since January, the team elected to put off further discussions until completing its coaching search. In clearing out his locker in April, Skinner did not rule out re-signing with the Sabres while adding he also didn’t want to rush into making his decision.

Krueger becomes the team’s fifth coach since Lindy Ruff was fired in February 2013. None of Ruff’s replacements have lasted beyond two seasons.

The Sabres are in the midst of their worst stretch in franchise history. They’ve finished last in the standings in three of the past six seasons and haven’t won a playoff round since 2007, when they lost to Ottawa in the Eastern Conference final.

Krueger inherits a team that lacks chemistry and has struggled to build on a foundation of several talented youngsters, including captain Jack Eichel and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the first player selected in the draft last year.

The latest shake-up comes two years into Botterill’s tenure as a first-time general manager, and after his decision to hire Housley proved to be a bust.

Though Botterill said the blame for Buffalo’s collapse deserved to be shared among players and himself, he added it became evident the team was not responding to Housley.

“Unfortunately, the message wasn’t getting through,” Botterill said when he fired the coach a day after the Sabres closed their season.

Secondary scoring has been an issue, with Skinner, Eichel and Sam Reinhart accounting for 90 of Buffalo’s 226 goals last season. The Sabres also committed far too many familiar defensive lapses for a team coached by a Hall of Fame defenseman.

Housley’s largest failure was an inability to have the Sabres adapt to playing the creative, high-tempo style that relied on defensemen in jumping into the rush.

1. LW Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets, $6 million salary in 2018-19. New team: New York Rangers, seven years, $81.5 million2. C Matt Duchene, Columbus Blue Jackets, $6.5 million.  New team: Nashville Predators, seven years, $56 million3. LW Anders Lee, New York Islanders, $5 million. He's staying for seven years, $49 million.4. RW Mats Zuccarello, Dallas Stars, $4.5 million. New team: Minnesota Wild, five years, $30 million5. D Tyler Myers, Winnipeg Jets, $3 million. New team: Vancouver Canucks, five years, $30 million6. D Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs, $4.05 million. New team: Carolina Hurricanes, four years, $16.2 million.7. C Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks, $6 million. New team: Dallas Stars, three years, $21 million8. G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets, $6.2 million. New team: Florida Panthers, seven years, $70 million9. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks (10), $9 million (contract was bought out). New team: Dallas Stars, one year, $1.5 million, plus bonuses10. G Robin Lehner, New York Islanders, $1.5 million. New team: Chicago Blackhawks, one year, $5 million11. LW Marcus Johansson, Boston Bruins, $4.75 million. New team: Buffalo Sabres, two years, $9 million12. LW Micheal Ferland, left, Carolina Hurricanes, $1.8 million. New team: Vancouver Canucks, four years, $14 million13. RW Justin Williams, Carolina Hurricanes, $4 million. He announced on Sept. 2 that he is 14. F Gustav Nyquist, San Jose Sharks, $5.5 million. New team: Columbus Blue Jackets, four years, $22 million15. F Brett Connolly, Washington Capitals, $1.5 million. New team: Florida Panthers, four years, $13 million16. G Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche, $5.5 million. New team: New York Islanders, four years, $20 million17. RW Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks, $1.9 million. New team: Colorado Avalanche, four years, $13.6 million18. RW Wayne Simmonds, Nashville Predators, $5 million. New team: New Jersey Devils, one year, $5 million19. D Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning, $4.5 million. New team: Florida Panthers, three years, $16.5 million20. C Brian Boyle, Nashville Predators, $2.5 million21. G Petr Mrazek, Carolina Hurricanes, $1.5 million. He's staying for two years, $6.25 million22. G Curtis McElhinney, Carolina Hurricanes, $850,000. New team: Tampa Bay Lightning, two years, $2.6 million23. C Valtteri Filppula, New York Islanders, $2.75 million. New team: Detroit Red Wings, two years, $6 million24.  RW Richard Panik (14), Arizona Coyotes, $2.8 million. New team: Washington Capitals, four years, $11 million25. C Patrick Marleau, Carolina Hurricanes, $6.25 million (he was traded from the Maple Leafs and the Hurricanes bought him out). New team: San Jose Sharks, one year, reported $700,000Key players who signed before July 1: D Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks, eight years, $92 millionRW Kevin Hayes, Winnipeg Jets. His rights were traded to Philadelphia and he signed a seven-year, $50 million deal with the Flyers.F Jeff Skinner, Buffalo Sabres, eight years, $72 millionRW Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders,  five years, $27.5 millionC Brock Nelson, New York Islanders, six years, $36 millionD Carl Gunnarsson, St. Louis Blues, two years, $3.5 million



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