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The Krueger Crux? "Not thinking out there"

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Bylsma used to have dry erase boards all over the room and the players were on information overload. Okposo thinks there is a better way and he feels it will help him be better, “It’s simplifying, I mentioned to Ralph that I wanted to get back to using my instincts more as opposed to thinking and I think for a hockey player, that’s really important. Players will tell you they’re at their best when they’re not thinking out there.”

https://wgr550.radio.com/articles/news/sabres-okposo-impressed-ralph-krueger

Dear God, please let this be Krueger's way. These players have admitted to not knowing anything about analytics, for crying out loud. They're generally not thinking, sentient beings. Point them in the right direction and let them go play hockey. Thinking and strategy and tactics and even analytics have to underpin the direction, but that's for RaKru to worry about.

Give the players three code words that you shout from the bench, that can carry over the din of the crowd (no worry in Buffalo there). COYOTE! KITTY CAT! LEMUR! It shouldn't be any more complicated than that.

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Hockey players don’t need to know anything about analytics for a coach to deploy an analytically based system. That’s what separates good coaches from the pack. 

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Agreed on all points.  The coaches and GMs should worry about the stats, and they should be able to reduce the game to its most simple form for the players.  

I think RK was hired to do this, to un-do all of the chaff and distractions floating around in the players' heads.  

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19 minutes ago, darksabre said:

nolan7resized.jpg?w=600&h=397

Not a good analogy. People said Ted was dumb. It was ugly.

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1 hour ago, PASabreFan said:

Dear God, please let this be Krueger's way. These players have admitted to not knowing anything about analytics, for crying out loud. They're generally not thinking, sentient beings. Point them in the right direction and let them go play hockey. Thinking and strategy and tactics and even analytics have to underpin the direction, but that's for RaKru to worry about.

Give the players three code words that you shout from the bench, that can carry over the din of the crowd (no worry in Buffalo there). COYOTE! KITTY CAT! LEMUR! It shouldn't be any more complicated than that.

I think that you're over-simplifying matters (for the sake of making a point, I infer), but I think the point you are making is a good one.

18 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

Not a good analogy. People said Ted was dumb. It was ugly.

And here's where I think you're acknowledging that good coaching is a bit more than firing the boys up and telling them to go skate through the boards. Because that's about all Teddy ever did.

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Here's the thing. I post Teddy in jest, but I think people misrepresent his coaching style as overly simplistic when the truth is something a little more genuine: Ted understood that a lot of what makes teams successful is individual players doing their part. Ted has always been described as a "players' coach" and typically what that means is that a coach understands and connects with his players on a personal level. There are plenty of alumni who played for Ted who still speak of him with affection because Ted's greatest skill wasn't that he asked guys to go through walls for him, it's that they did it willingly and of their own volition.

Ted isn't a coach who will take you the distance. We know that. But if Ted's coaching style was a gear in a transmission, it would be first gear: the one that gets things moving.

We should be lucky if Krueger is a better version of Ted.

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Paul Maurice was on WGR shortly after Krueger was hired. He mentioned that he was responsible for breaking down the video for Team Europe and after their first game he brought a package of over 80 clips. Krueger said that’s way too many,  he wanted about 20 so the players are not overloaded. 

I believe he will use analytics for line matching and let his players play

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4 minutes ago, Brawndo said:

Paul Maurice was on WGR shortly after Krueger was hired. He mentioned that he was responsible for breaking down the video for Team Europe and after their first game he brought a package of over 80 clips. Krueger said that’s way too many,  he wanted about 20 so the players are not overloaded. 

I believe he will use analytics for line matching and let his players play

 

An Analytical Teddy?

A coach that is the combination of the good traits that make up an analytical coach and an inspirational coach rolled in to one.

I hope that is what we are getting.

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Since this thread is going off the rails with Nolan talk... The only thing Ted could possibly do better than Ruff, Bylsma, Housley, and RK, is grow a good head of hair. For my money, Ted flat out sucked for most of his coaching career. And besides the Islanders, the rest of the NHL owners/GM’s agree. 

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45 minutes ago, woods-racer said:

An Analytical Teddy?

A coach that is the combination of the good traits that make up an analytical coach and an inspirational coach rolled in to one.

I hope that is what we are getting.

 

I think Botterill is right there with you.  

Without getting terribly into the weeds on intelligence and all of that, RK might be an "evolved Teddy".  A guy who can theorize and then execute, test, and revise his theories.  Teddy wasn't that kind of a person.

RK understands and respects analytics and therefore knows how to weave them into the overall approach to the players.  Teddy was likely old-school hockey (non-analytic) and an underwhelming strategist.  RK, indirectly, admits to not being fully versed in NHL strategies, but recognizes he needs someone who is. 

I can see this all working out to a certain level and then plateauing.  Will that plateau be play-off level hockey?  It needs to be.  And if they make it in, the coaching staff needs to be a well-oiled machine by that point or they're 4 and out.

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1 hour ago, Zamboni said:

Since this thread is going off the rails with Nolan talk... The only thing Ted could possibly do better than Ruff, Bylsma, Housley, and RK, is grow a good head of hair. For my money, Ted flat out sucked for most of his coaching career. And besides the Islanders, the rest of the NHL owners/GM’s agree. 

Nolan was the best motivator that this team has ever had.  Ruff could keep them in high gear all post-season, but Teddy, as mentioned up thread could get them to WANT to go through a wall for him without asking.

If Teddy could've done a better job of finding x/o knowledgeable assistants, he could've been 1 of the best coaches of all time.

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I definitely get the sentiment. I don't think it was necessary to shove whiteboards and analytics in the players' faces to improve our transition game from this:

to this:

Likewise, you probably don't need to tell the players a single stat to get them to improve their offensive zone play from stuff like this:


 

(note how stuck to the perimeter, and stationary, the Sabres are, particularly the ones without the puck. And in the Minnesota clip, look at how confused, crossed up, and headless-chicken-like the forwards are at the front of the net in the end)

to stuff like this:

(Note how the players off the puck swoop around to cover far more surface area than the Sabres forwards, who largely stand and watch, do, and notice how many position-switches and how much north/south motion for off-puck players Philly employs to try and confuse the defense)

My one "however" with this whole discussion, though, is that this stuff probably needs the metaphorical white board. I am not convinced that Okposo's instincts (nor those of anyone else) are to revert to these rather intricate, obviously-practiced motions and timing plays. I'm pretty convinced we'd see a lot more random shots, chaos in front of the net, stuff that doesn't actually make us more reliably dangerous offensively. I don't think "not thinking out there" is the process by which the Sabres can incorporate this stuff, and I think it's really important that they incorporate it, because I think it's the best way to open up space in the offensive zone, which is the easiest way to pull them away from being the least dangerous offensive zone team in the NHL, which several shot-weighting metrics indicate they are. If you're at the bottom of the league at something, improving THAT THING is the quickest way back to rejoining the NHL for fun things like playoff pushes. 

Krueger's most important job is NOT getting these guys to pull together, even though that is important. He's got to fix tangible on-ice stuff too, because that hindered the Sabres this past season far more than any lack of will/belief. These guys fought their ***** off for 2.5 months after that win streak before finally caving in when no help was brought. We all saw how pained their interviews were, desperate and trying everything to get back to the magic of November. These guys didn't not care, they didn't not try, and they weren't all pulling in different directions, they were just overmatched both tactically and as a roster. 

We have no idea if Krueger is capable of coaching modern NHL hockey, no matter how good he sounds right now, and for our sake, I hope he is. We'll see over the next couple of months. 

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6 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

My one "however" with this whole discussion, though, is that this stuff probably needs the metaphorical white board. I am not convinced that Okposo's instincts (nor those of anyone else) are to revert to these rather intricate, obviously-practiced motions and timing plays. 

I don't think "not thinking out there" is the process by which the Sabres can incorporate this stuff, and I think it's really important that they incorporate it, because I think it's the best way to open up space in the offensive zone, which is the easiest way to pull them away from being the least dangerous offensive zone team in the NHL, which several shot-weighting metrics indicate they are. 

I don't think they've tossed all of the whiteboards or don't plan to use them.  

You used four videos in your post to make the point.  Now, how much white-board-ing does it need?  Some, but, probably not to the extent to where the players' eyes glaze over.  

I don't trust KO's instincts, either, but I get that if they're bitching about it, they were probably overwhelmed by "tactics" and "on-ice variables".

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4 minutes ago, ... said:

I don't think they've tossed all of the whiteboards or don't plan to use them.  

You used four videos in your post to make the point.  Now, how much white-board-ing does it need?  Some, but, probably not to the extent to where the players' eyes glaze over.  

I don't trust KO's instincts, either, but I get that if they're bitching about it, they were probably overwhelmed by "tactics" and "on-ice variables".

Yeah, I just don't think we've heard anything that's going to guarantee the on-ice product becomes better, just that the players might be less annoyed. I think some people would take the above quotes to mean the coaching is going to get better, but we won't have evidence of that until we see the team on the ice doing things that they've practiced that are better than anything they've done in the last decade. 

ie I get exactly zero increase in hope or optimism from any of this, even though i certainly don't have NO hope or optimism

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1 minute ago, Randall Flagg said:

Yeah, I just don't think we've heard anything that's going to guarantee the on-ice product becomes better, just that the players might be less annoyed. I think some people would take the above quotes to mean the coaching is going to get better, but we won't have evidence of that until we see the team on the ice doing things that they've practiced that are better than anything they've done in the last decade. 

ie I get exactly zero increase in hope or optimism from any of this, even though i certainly don't have NO hope or optimism

I am neither hopeful or woeful, myself.  Like I said, I can see this working out to a certain level.  I think the recipe is the right one for the team at this time.  The plateau depends on how clever and insightful RK is.   I don't expect him to be a high-end hockey coach (not saying that you are, either) - I don't have a clue what kind of coach he will wind up being - but, again, I think, if nothing else, with the data that we have on RK and what we've seen from the team, the "RK Attempt" if you will, was a good call.

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I think that there is a good chance that Housley and Bylsma understand hockey systems just as well or better than Krueger.

Designing systems and tactics is not the same thing as getting players to believe in them or effectively utilize them.

That is where my hope in Krueger lies.

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7 minutes ago, dudacek said:

I think that there is a good chance that Housley and Bylsma understand hockey systems just as well or better than Krueger.

Designing systems and tactics is not the same thing as getting players to believe in them or effectively utilize them.

That is where my hope in Krueger lies.

Have you watched @Randall Flagg final project? I put it on my site 45b.us, it's a good understanding of Housley

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2 hours ago, Zamboni said:

Since this thread is going off the rails with Nolan talk... The only thing Ted could possibly do better than Ruff, Bylsma, Housley, and RK, is grow a good head of hair. For my money, Ted flat out sucked for most of his coaching career. And besides the Islanders, the rest of the NHL owners/GM’s agree. 

The word "most" saves you. Because people can point out that Nolan took two NHL teams to the playoffs, both times unexpectedly I would say, and you can't suck as a coach and do that.

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2 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

The word "most" saves you. Because people can point out that Nolan took two NHL teams to the playoffs, both times unexpectedly I would say, and you can't suck as a coach and do that.

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2 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

The word "most" saves you. Because people can point out that Nolan took two NHL teams to the playoffs, both times unexpectedly I would say, and you can't suck as a coach and do that.

Saves me from what? Over reaction as to the level of his suckitude? It’s my opinion of Ted. Agree or disagree, it’s how I feel about his ability as an NHL coach. His ability to motivate doesn’t outweigh his overall lack of ability to coach effectively and long term (well rounded) Flash in the pan coach. Sure we can go back n forth about topics that get us deep in the weeds about rosters, GM’s, Assistant coaches, era, system and owners. But thru it all, I just think he was a bad coach. But great hair! 😂

but again, this thread is getting off the tracks...

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24 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

The word "most" saves you. Because people can point out that Nolan took two NHL teams to the playoffs, both times unexpectedly I would say, and you can't suck as a coach and do that.

They had the greatest goalie of all-time. I’m pretty sure six year old me could have stood behind the bench and gotten those results. 

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1 hour ago, Zamboni said:

Saves me from what? Over reaction as to the level of his suckitude? It’s my opinion of Ted. Agree or disagree, it’s how I feel about his ability as an NHL coach. His ability to motivate doesn’t outweigh his overall lack of ability to coach effectively and long term (well rounded) Flash in the pan coach. Sure we can go back n forth about topics that get us deep in the weeds about rosters, GM’s, Assistant coaches, era, system and owners. But thru it all, I just think he was a bad coach. But great hair! 😂

but again, this thread is getting off the tracks...

It saves you from sounding like you think a coach who won a division, the Jack Adams Trophy and made the playoffs — and then took the freakin' Islanders to the playoffs and came closer than most Sabre fans would admit to upsetting the Presidents' Trophy-winning team — sucked all of the time. (But your reply seems to suggest you think he was a bad coach even while he was doing the above.)

Edited by PASabreFan

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5 hours ago, dudacek said:

I think that there is a good chance that Housley and Bylsma understand hockey systems just as well or better than Krueger.

Designing systems and tactics is not the same thing as getting players to believe in them or effectively utilize them.

That is where my hope in Krueger lies.

Has he given us any reason to hope more than "new coach could mean anything"? 

The last time Ralph was in the NHL, his Oilers (in the shortened season) were 16-13-7, in a playoff spot, and coming off a 5 game win streak with 12 games left to play. They went 3 - 9 - 0 to finish the year, and missed. That is IDENTICAL to the story of the 16-17 and 18-19 Sabres as well, in a condensed form - right when the calendar turns and it's feeling like there's the time and possibility to go on a run and make it, the bed gets shat, in spectacular fashion. I've seen arguments to the effect that more of a buy-in from the players is what could have prevented these seasons from turning out the way they did, and you're expressing your hope in that type of buy-in, but the presence of literally the exact same type of season from a Krueger team in the only one we have a recent sample for, I'm not saying it makes me pessimistic or skeptical for how he will affect our team, but it certainly provides zero push towards feeling that type of hope any more than I would with [insert NEW coach name here]. 

It's my belief that the 10 game win streak was completely absurd, and itself provided far more of a drive/belief for those players than any coach can. Can you imagine how giddy those guys must have felt in that locker room after San Jose? All they could talk about for months after was getting that feeling back again. The thing that was missing that kept them from ever getting back to it wasn't in their heads, or in the locker room, it was in the tape, and the roster structure. I certainly haven't docked Ralph any points for anything he's said, because that wouldn't be fair, but I haven't heard him once indicate that he understands what the real problem with this team is, more than vague generalities about getting the best out of guys and what have you. Which again is completely fine and doesn't mean he has no idea, I don't expect him to necessarily say anything useful, but it also doesn't make me GIVE him points for the things he is saying. At least we're not getting the "didn't watch any tape from the previous year so Moulson gets the first 15 games" vibe yet. 

But I'm not inspired or given extra hope by his words, because they, and our reactions to them, are fundamentally identical to the sentiments expressed by Dan, Phil and our reactions to those sentiments at the time. And the supposed character difference between what he does to a room when he enters it (compared to a Phil) that people gush about doesn't point to the thing that in my view is actually wrong, so it's kinda neither here nor there for me. I don't doubt that there's some amount of room for improvement via Ralph's massaging of the locker room psyche, but 100% of the time I'm focusing on my hockey team becoming an elite hockey team, and the single biggest jump that I think they can take towards that end involves a lot more change in what happens on the ice than off of it, change that cannot happen via the brief, irrelevant tactical clues we've been given to this point like "instincts." Which is fine, but until I see that, it looks like a frustrating ~80 point season to me dawg 

 

Edited by Randall Flagg

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