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Southampton set to hire ex-NHL coach Ralph Krueger as director

Jan 22, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

After coaching the Swiss and Austrian national hockey teams, plus a one-year stint with the Oilers, Krueger has switched hockey for soccer. AP

Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr has only been formally in charge at St. Mary’s for a week, but the young owner is already working hard to surround herself with sporting leaders who can help lift the Saints onto the next level.

So, naturally, you’d expect former NHL coach Ralph Krueger to be on board…

Here’s the story from our colleagues over at ProHockeyTalk, as this rather bizarre appointment would raise eyebrows across the soccer world.

Krueger, 54, will act as an advisor to the Canadian Olympic Hockey team at the winter Olympics in Sochi, then head to Southampton next month for his new role. The former Oilers and Switzerland Hockey national team head coach is known for his motivational speaking and how to develop successful teams and environments. The German national details his own philosophy in his own self-help book, Teamlife: From Failure to Success.

On Wednesday news also broke that Southampton’s Chief Financial Officer Gareth Rogers will take over the role of interim Chief Executive Officer until the end of the season to give Saints owner Liebherr plenty of time to make the correct decision.

Following the resignation of Executive Chairman Nicola Cortese last week and the many rumors that spread, Liebherr is clean to clear all the indecision up quickly and get everyone back to talking about the on-field play of the Saints. But as the PHT guys explain, Krueger’s tactics and approach raised plenty of eyebrows as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers in the league’s shortened ’13 season.

Now he seems to be switching a hockey stick for a soccer ball in an advisory role at Southampton. Here’s more on Krueger from PHT’s Mike Halford:

Krueger went 19-22-7 in his lone year in Edmonton, briefly flirting with a playoff push during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign.

He’s known as an innovative thinker — last year, he raised some eyebrows by saying he and his staff were treating the shootout as a “third special team,” and had goalie coach Frederic Chabot scout opposing goalies for tips and strategies.

(MORE: Unraveling the mess at Southampton FC: Liebherr, Cortese, Pochettino and Saints’ future)

Earlier this week Liebherr penned an open letter to Southampton’s fans, who were used to a wall of silence from former chairman Cortese, outlining the position the club finds itself in under her new position as non-executive Chairman and her plans for the short and long-term future of the club.

We are now in the top half one of the most competitive leagues in the world, playing attractive football with a young and ambitious team, and poised to move into world-class training facilities. We have much to be thankful for. I am particularly excited that the Southampton tradition of nurturing and providing young talent with first team opportunities is set to flourish with the strong academy foundation we have put in place.

Off the pitch, my priority is to establish the proper running of the club at the top. I also have a strong team of advisers around me as we plan the way forwards. As soon as we have more news to share, we will do so.

Seems like the final part of that statement is beginning to come together, as Liebherr casts the net far and wide to get the people she wants to help Southampton continue their rapid ascent up the Premier League table and into European soccer.

One last thing, this isn’t the only time Saints have looked to another sport to give them a helping hand. Back in 2005 head coach of England’s World Cup winning Rugby team, Sir Clive Woodward, took over in a development role at Southampton to help the clubs academy. Despite never having any experience in soccer.

That experiment didn’t last long after much ridicule from across the soccer community. Here’s to hoping Krueger’s potential impact on the Saints is much more positive….

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