Sabres' Ralph Krueger, Canadiens' Claude Julien share mutual respect - Buffalo Hockey Beat
BUFFALO – Six years ago, Ralph Krueger’s job as a consultant for Team Canada’s Olympic entry at the Sochi Games offered the Sabres coach a chance to discuss hockey with some the game’s greatest minds.
Mike Babcock, Ken Hitchcock, Claude Julien and former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff all served on Canada’s coaching staff.
“It was the best hockey coaching symposium you could go through with that group because of the way everybody exchanged everything,” Krueger said after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s game against Julien’s Montreal Canadiens.
Having coached Switzerland for 13 years – Krueger led a huge upset of the Canadians at the 2006 Olympics – the hockey powerhouse hired him to prepare for its gold medal defense.
Krueger said Babcock, Canada’s head coach, called a meeting in New York before the Olympics and instructed each staff member to share their hockey knowledge.
“We spent three days doing that,” said Krueger, who had coached the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13. “What an exchange that was. That’s why you’re going to see traces of everybody’s games showing up all over the place. Probably because of that year we spent together.”
After Canada earned another gold medal, Krueger began his five-year run as chairman of Southampton F.C., an English Premier League soccer team.
So he couldn’t apply what he had learned with Canada until 2016, when he coached Team Europe to the final of the World Cup of Hockey.
“It was a hockey school that I was a little sad I wasn’t going to use until the World Cup came along,” he said.
Julien said Krueger “just blended in really well with our group.”
“He did a great job for us in prescouting the European teams before the Sochi Olympics,” he said.
Julien pins Krueger’s short tenure in Edmonton on the Oilers’ regime change, not his coaching abilities.
“He proved himself with Team Europe and he’s off to a good start here,” he said. “I’m not surprised he’s an NHL coach again, because he’s a very knowledgeable and capable guy of coaching in this league, and I’m sure he’s going to keep showing it.”
Krueger said he enjoyed “bouncing things” off Julien.
“He’s a very honest, direct coach who tells the truth and doesn’t play any games,” he said.