In his bold predictions for the 2016-17 season, TSN’s Frank Servalli predicts that the head coach of the Las Vegas expansion team will be Ralph Krueger. The head coach of Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey last month, a team that exceeded everyone’s expectations, Krueger has gotten plenty of buzz as a top coaching candidate for any spots that open in the near future. No NHL coaching gig will get as much attention as the man picked to helm the new team in Las Vegas next season.
The only problem? Krueger is currently the chairman of Southampton FC of the English Premiere League, and yes that is a soccer team. Although Krueger grew up in Canada and was a hockey player, he was born in Germany, and his German roots and time spent playing and coaching overseas also made him a big soccer fan. He was named director of Southampton in 2014, and was soon after promoted to chairman. As of now, he has pledged his dedication to his switch to soccer, but Servalli notes that Krueger also added in a World Cup interview that he would “never say never”.
Should Las Vegas GM George McPhee convince Krueger to return to hockey and coach the league’s newest team next year, it would not be his first stint as an NHL bench boss. Krueger began working for the Edmonton Oilers in 2010 and was promoted to head coach for the 2012-13 season. After finishing below .500 and missing the playoffs, Krueger was relieved of his duties after just one season. However, his recent success at the World Cup shows that the former Oilers coach still has a passion for the game of hockey, as well as an innate ability to coach it. It is a certainty that Las Vegas will inquire about Krueger’s interests in a return, and if you believe Servalli, he will be the first head coach of the franchise in 2016-17.