September 10, 2019
The Instigators (10:30 a.m.)
Andrew Peters: How long have you been in town?
Ralph Krueger: Mid-August.
AP: I’m not going to ask you your address or anything, but are you settled?
RK: Settled, living in the city.
AP: Settled, living in the city.
RK: Yeah, living in the city. I love it, I love it. The environment has been good for the balance. Evening, just going for walks, hitting some nature, having some good meals.
AP: I’m sure when you go bar to bar people recognize you this time.
RK: Not the bar to bar thing anymore.
AP: Little more low-key now, are you?
RK: The bakeries, bakeries and cafes now. Change of genre.
AP: So, are you feeling a buzz?
RK: Yeah, I mean as a coach you’re in a situation where you’ve spent multiple months now preparing. The danger is, I think I grabbed our second day of practice the other day and started redesigning it, just for something to do. I want to let all that go now and let’s get going, let’s start practicing, let’s start communicating with the players, let’s get our concepts in place. I’m excited to play.
Craig Rivet: Today’s golf day. [It] usually signifies the start of a new season, having all the players back, everybody’s signed. I’m sure that the players are extremely excited to get things going obviously with a new coach and a new leader. What’s the biggest message moving into training camp? What’s the one thing you’ll be keying on to try and bring these guys together?
RK: I think that the end result needs to be that on the third of October when you guys are watching — and speaking to me a few days later — you feel that there’s a concept there behind what we’re doing. The guys are playing together and playing as one with and without the puck. That’s the goal now, in the next few weeks, to find a path to get them set up that way. That’s our responsibility as coaches. I feel a group of players that are open and willing to do this, so let’s just get it started. But it begins with the communication, making sure that everybody has the same basis of facts that we all understand what those are and what those need to be for us to be successful here, and then let’s put them into play. The talk is cheap on the way to the actions, so let’s get those actions right by the third of October; that’s really what our goal is.
CR: Have you enjoyed watching the prospects?
RK: Yeah. As a coach in the moment you’re looking more at the individual skill sets and the individual abilities within that group. The team game itself was exciting in that they were fighting to win all three games. You could see a good passion there, good work ethic and fight. We’ve got some interesting skill in these players, which we’ll see what it’s like when they hit main camp. It’s a different ballgame starting Friday. But we look forward to some of the players we saw there.
AP: Well I’ve got to ask because, you know, sometimes that was some of the only way I could get noticed. What did you think of Casey Fitzgerald yesterday?
RK: He definitely has a lot of skill and mobility and [is an] active player. He left his mark and we’ll be seeing him in main camp for sure.
AP: Good scrap?
RK: Yeah, that was like (Matej) Pekar the other day. I mean, him at “Fitzy” were showing it mattered and they cared no matter what, and I think that was important. That was your world more? Is that it?
AP: Yeah, I would probably believe that you don’t know who I am. It’s okay. Riv, you want to take over here? I’ve got to tell you, my confidence is at an all-time low. Nice to meet you, sir.
AP: I’ve got to ask you this, and I feel like the word — I feel like unless you’ve truly lived it, I don’t think people truly understand, and we try to preach it, and our listeners and followers, they laugh at us when we reuse the word “culture.” And I feel it’s almost like we ignore talking about it because people are so sick of talking about it. But it’s not built in one offseason, it’s not built in one coaching hire; it starts in all these places. On your list of priorities in coaching, where is the culture in terms of the priority of success for your team?
RK: It’s hard to find a synonym for culture. I think that is a word that you are going to use and reuse all the time, especially in a coaching role because it summarizes the behavior of the group. It summarizes what the priorities are of the group and how they go into a practice, how they go into a game, how they go into a team meeting, how they hang out together on the road. It’s the lifestyle of everybody. There’s no way you push a button and change that overnight. It’s like with your children, you have a chance for seven, eight, nine years, maybe, at the beginning of the life to give a fundamental foundation of a culture in that child and then it develops its own little personality. But I think that a team culture develops over time. There’s been so many good things done here, that’s what I want to say over and over again. I’m walking into a lot of fundamentally strong cultural things here that I can build on and work on and are really in line with what I believe in. This organization has been trying to do its best. There’s so many good people on our staff in all different specialties. I don’t need to list them all right now, but there’s so many good things in terms of the organization of how the club is concerned, and its relationship with the Bills is something we can tap into and use as a positive. Now we need to get that culture straight on the ice. I think it’s the final piece. I think I’ve walked in here to a situation where the foundation is laid. It’s not like jobs I’ve walked [into] in the past where you’ve had to spend three years just getting the right staff together. No, let’s go to work right away and let’s get it right on the ice. So that’s our job now, and I look forward to it. Let’s see if you can find another word for culture, but in the end it summarizes what you do, what your actions are. What are your habits? What do you do on a regular basis? That’s what you’re culture is. We want to have actions that the fans and the people of Buffalo are proud of and they’re excited to be a part of.