Ralph Krueger needs to go before the Buffalo Sabres completely blow things up.
Wowzers. Yes, that one word perhaps best sums up life for the Buffalo Sabres right now who lurch from one disaster to the next and who seem determined to entrench themselves as one of the biggest laughing stocks in all of sports, let alone the National Hockey League.
In the wake of losing 5-2 to the New York Islanders earlier today, their third straight 5-2 loss to the same opponent this week, the Sabres have now dropped seven straight and things are rapidly turning ugly at the KeyBank Center.
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Speculation regarding the future of franchise cornerstone Jack Eichel has been raging for a while, and we looked at what a trade to the New York Rangers might look like here, while there are reports out there that suggest that every single player could be available come the Trade Deadline.
If true, that could prove to be quite the fire sale with players in the ilk of Taylor Hall, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen likely to attract a lot of interest, while there would be a hell of a lot of teams willing to give up a lot in order to acquire an uber-talented puck-moving defenseman in the ilk of Rasmus Dahlin if he was also on the trade block.
However, before Buffalo Sabres General Manager Kevyn Adams makes a concrete decision on any drastic roster moves and attempts to blow things up completely and start again, a more simple and straightforward solution might be to bring a new voice in behind the bench.
Ralph Krueger needs to go before the Buffalo Sabres tears this roster down
That means fire Head Coach Ralph Krueger and start again.
Things clearly haven’t worked out between Krueger and the Buffalo Sabres, and it is becoming more and more evident that this team just isn’t responding to whatever messages are being communicated to them during practice and in the locker room.
While Krueger was hailed as a great communicator when he was hired by the Sabres, with his ability to build relationships with his players seen as a huge strength, particularly when it came to Jack Eichel who needed to be convinced that this franchise was heading in the right direction, that just doesn’t appear to be working right now.
Krueger is 36-43-11 behind the bench for Buffalo and refusing to alter his methods, coupled with his handling of forward Jeff Skinner, who was benched for a number of games in a row, you get the impression that he is starting to lose control of the room.
I mean, watch Buffalo’s last couple of games against the Islanders and it was clear that certain players have given up, and it was alarming to see the lack of effort and lack of hustle from some players, including Eichel himself.
General Manager Kevyn Adams even came out earlier this week and stated that Krueger’s status was being evaluated, and it does appear as though big change is on the way. It could happen as soon as tomorrow following today’s lifeless loss, and Krueger should be the one to go.
After all, the Sabres have been mired in hockey mediocrity for more than a decade now and Eichel was meant to be the franchise savior, so giving up on him and tearing everything down at the Trade Deadline would spell disaster when it comes to the future of this organization.
If you trade a player like Eichel then fans will stay away when arenas are allowed to fully reopen again, and it could be another decade or so before the Sabres are ready to be competitive again. Granted, if Eichel demands a trade then there might not be a lot the front office can do about keeping hold of their face of the franchise, but there’s steps they can take to try and avoid that situation.
For starters, firing Krueger now would put the entire team on notice that huge change is on the horizon, and it could spark certain players into life knowing that they too could be out of the door soon if results don’t start improving.
Secondly, with established and proven Head Coaches available in the ilk of Gerard Gallant and Claude Julien, there is an opportunity for the Buffalo Sabres to go out and hire a respected name who knows what it takes to win in the NHL and who knows how to squeeze every ounce of talent out of what is a talented group of players on paper.
You can only imagine that Eichel, Taylor Hall and Rasmus Dahlin would be galvanized by the very opportunity to play under someone like Julien or Gallant, and you can throw Bruce Boudreau in that conversation too.
Playing for any of those three would no doubt help to get the best out of this current group, and having an established and proven voice behind the bench and in the locker room could be the key to unlocking the potential of this team and get them back to winning ways.
If that were to happen then it could persuade Jack Eichel to give it one more try in Buffalo knowing that he’s playing for a Head Coach who actually knows what he’s doing, and it would mean that the Buffalo Sabres wouldn’t have to blow this whole thing up and inflict another decade of misery on its long-suffering fanbase. Of course, a change behind the bench may not be the answer either, but it should at least be the next step before this organization even considers trading away some of its top talent and potentially its franchise cornerstone.