BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It wasn’t all unfamiliar faces for Taylor Hall as he joined the Sabres after signing as a free agent back in October.
One of the big reasons Hall came to Buffalo was because of head coach Ralph Krueger as the two spent three seasons in Edmonton together.
“It was excellent to have Taylor back on the ice at the same time. We had a nice chat yesterday already and you know his skill, his ability, his pace you know you could feel it already and it gives our whole group a confidence when you see somebody like Taylor,” Krueger said after practice on Friday.
Hall hit the ice for the first time with his new team as the Sabres held their first practice of training camp on New Year’s Day and already Hall can see the similarities with Krueger from their days with the Oilers.
“It’s funny the drills that we were doing today I recognized the, I didn’t quite remember how to do them or they weren’t second. nature to me but a lot of the philosophies are the exact same,” Hall said.
In 2010, both Hall and Krueger were both starting their NHL careers. Edmonton had just drafted Hall with the first overall pick and Krueger was just starting his first NHL job as an assistant coach with the Oilers.
Krueger was eventually promoted to head coach for the 2012-2013 season but fired after that and now the two are reunited in Buffalo.
“As a person we clearly connected through those three years and enjoyed the good and the bad times you know as he was growing and learning so that relationship has a foundation, it’s like we stepped right back into it on the ice when we spoke a few times,” Krueger explained.
“Our meetings are fast, our meetings are to the point and that’s how our practices are as well. They’re filled with pace, they’re filled with quickness and high quality. I think he’s a big quality over quantity guy and I think that’s a great trait that you want have at head coach and especially a coach that,” Hall said.
“There’s not a lot of gray areas with Ralph and I think that’s a great thing.”
Hall was just 18 years old when he met Krueger and the Oilers drafted him. And while a lot has changed in that time, some things have also remained consistent.
“He is just so mature now in his presence off the ice. I think winning the MVP a couple of years ago has put him in an extremely confident position and he just oozes confidence when he’s in in the room or when he’s on the ice and the way he conducts himself,” Krueger said.
“The leader in him has taken on a whole new level and meaning now so those are add on’s. I always loved the competitiveness of Taylor Hall, the hunger to want to win and doing whatever the team needs to be successful was always in his DNA but now he’s adding a lot of bonuses especially off the ice. I’m quite excited what he’s gonna bring us.”