One of the most interesting things amongst the fallout of Nicole Cortese’s Saints departure, was the news that Katherina Liebherr looks set to give a technical advisory role on the board to Ice Hockey coach Ralph Krueger.
Who? Exactly what I said. As somebody who has never been a fan of the sport I had no idea who he was, and I would imagine that was the same for most Saints fans (and the ‘Clive Woodward debacle springing too our minds). To that end, here at georgeweahscousin.com if we don’t know about somebody incoming at the club, we go and finds somebody who does…
Jouni Nieminen is a freelance NHL writer in Finland. Here is what he had to say about Krueger and his coming role with Saints…
Were you surprised to hear that Ralph Krueger is set to take an advisory role on the board of an English Premier League Football Club?
JN: ‘I was not surprised at all. I understand that the owner of Southampton football club lives in Switzerland and knows Ralph who has also lives there for some time now. Ralph is well-known for his talents as motivational speaker and is author of a book on the same subject in Central Europe. Austria, Switzerland, Germany, I believe.’
What is his reputation as a hockey coach like?
JN: ‘Ralph is a very good hockey coach, especially in European hockey and international hockey. Strategically sound. Knows the game inside and out. He gained respect of his native country Canada’s hockey people when he coached the Swiss in the Turin games and they beat the powerhouse team from Canada, something of a miracle.
In the National Hockey League he worked for two years as associate coach and one as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. He had a very bad, young team to coach. Considering that he did ok. Some thought he was too much of a nice guy, and should have made veteran pros accountable.
As far as reputation, after getting fired from the Edmonton Oilers, the second phone call he took was from Canada’s Olympic team coach and respected Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock inviting him to join the Canada coaching team to go to Sochi (the coming winter games). Ralph works as special advisor/advanced scout, specialising in watching the European opponents while getting ready for the games. He was also involved in team selection process which is sometimes more talked about in hockey mad Canada than the games itself.
Ralph Krueger is a very respected man in hockey. Mike Babcock would not call otherwise.’
What do you think he can transfer from his experience as a hockey coach to his role with Saints?
JN: ‘Ralph is known for his motivational abilities. Regardless of the sport, he understands the process and can help athletes mental preparation. He can build players confidence in themselves.’
He has a reputation as a motivator, do you have any examples of where this has worked for him?
JN: ‘I think his success with the Swiss national hockey team especially stands as an example. Two Edmonton Oilers hockey players come to mind also. Winger Taylor Hall is one of the premier young talents in the NHL. He had an outstanding season under Ralph, almost an all-star season. Also, goaltender Devan Dubnyk had a good season under Ralph. Both players have not performed the same way after Ralph left, which may have something to do with it. Just an observer’s thought, but there might be something in it. He can make complicated things sound simple.’
Thanks to Jouni for his time on this. It certainly sounds like Krueger will be taking a role in the scouting setup and pre-match preparation at Saints.
For further information, listen to a recent radio interview with Krueger on his role with Team Canada at the Winter Olympics, and briefly on Saints at the end:- https://soundcloud.com/630ched/january-22-inside-sports-hour#t=19:00
He already refers to Saints as ‘we’ and talks about having one of the best Academies in the world. Nice touch.