The relationship between an NHL head coach and his captain can be one of the most important partnerships in hockey.
During an appearance on Hockey Central on Friday, Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel talked about the strong bond he shares with his head coach, Ralph Krueger, and said he sees Krueger as “a role model for leadership.”
“His demeanour, the way that he handles himself in the locker room in front of everyone everyday,” Eichel said. “He’s somebody that I look up to a lot as a role model for leadership. There’s such a great respect there and I think that it’s mutual between the two of us.”
Krueger was hired in Buffalo last May, coming in as a replacement for Phil Housley after two seasons. It was his first shot at taking over an NHL bench since a short stint in 2012-13 with the Edmonton Oilers.
“I think the line of communication is just so open and he’s always seeing how I’m doing that day and where my head’s at and I think that he does a great job of getting a pulse on the team and knowing the pulse of the team and when to act a certain way,” Eichel said.
Despite a strong start to the 2019-20 season, the Sabres fell out of contention as the season wore on but that doesn’t make this a lost season. With Eichel still learning the ropes of leading the team on the ice and in the locker room, it’s clear that Krueger’s influence has been a strong one.
“The trust there, the trust between the two of us that no matter what, we can say what we need to say to each other. He’s been so helpful to me,” said Eichel. “I can’t say enough good things about him and as a young captain, to have a coach like that, I think it just makes my job so, so much easier.”