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September 29, 2016

Ralph Krueger

Toronto, Ontario

Team Canada 2
Team Europe ‑ 1

Q. Coach, as disappointing as this may be, would you try to reassess where international hockey is at this point? Canada has won five out of the last six best‑on‑best tournaments, and you guys played an almost perfect game for 57 minutes, and Canada played really poorly for 57 minutes and still they find a way to win this.

RALPH KRUEGER: Well, the depth of Canada and the competitive nature of that group I know well from being with them in Sochi. That danger was always there. The way it turns out at the end of course is very painful at the moment.
But you need to, as I'm speaking to you all here for the last time at this tournament, need to open your mind to the big picture and the journey this group partook in and how we played today was amazing. I mean, by far, by far our best game. They played their hearts out. When you see the minutes on some of the guys and you see the effort of players that reached for their potential all the way through the game, it's extremely painful to see the final result. But I feel nothing but pride of the way this group performed today, the challenge they put up against Canada. This group just continued to surprise and beat the odds and beat the thoughts of everybody that was watching.
I think we turned this into a hell of a final, which nobody expected, and it was certainly the best game played by anybody against Canada in this tournament was today. And now we have to digest it.
But looking back, I know with some distance from today, we will do nothing but celebrate this month of September 2016 as a special month for this Team Europe group and what they did here.

Q. Earlier today I think you talked about one or two things you were going to focus on. You wouldn't let the media in on one those things were. What were those tactical changes you made? Because it seemed to be working whatever you did.
RALPH KRUEGER: Yeah, well, what we looked for was a lot more movement in the offensive zone, so it wasn't just in front of Price or in and around him, it was also just keeping all five guys moving. And we really created a lot of O zone time as a result of it.
We took a lot of risks in this game, and Carey Price was, once again, just amazing. You have to see that injury Jaroslav Halak played a hell of a game, but at the end he made some outstanding saves.
The movement that we brought into our game tonight really created stress for Canada and nailed them in there for long periods of time, which I've not seen in a Canadian team in a long time.
I thought the guys bought in completely again, gave all they could under the circumstances and the changes we made, and it was definitely a foundation for the game we saw today.

Q. Could you, I guess, pinpoint a couple of key moments in that final few minutes that maybe cost your team in this game?
RALPH KRUEGER: Well, I mean, I don't want to speak about calls that were made during the game or not, but it was more the Kopitar call, we had seen many situations like that throughout the game, and that certainly was the turning point.
I mean, the shorthanded goal makes it that much more painful at the end, but I think we needed to make sure that we carried that 1‑0 into the 60th minute, and we weren't able to do that shorthanded.
It was amazing deflection by Bergeron, world‑class hand‑eye coordination, redirects that puck into the top left corner. But I would say Canada was definitely putting on a push. I thought we were dealing with it pretty well, and that shorthanded situation would have been the turning point.

Q. You've already written one book; does the story of Team Europe, is there another motivational book behind it?
RALPH KRUEGER: Well, it deserves a special story just on the honesty of the game of hockey. I think Team Europe proved tonight that if a group commits to playing connected and working for each other, with and without the puck, they can play against teams that are much more on paper skilled or have a higher value with them.
But yes, the whole story and the journey we took, the adversity we had and how we grew out of it and the permanent challenges we went through here in the tournament and we were able to overcome, maybe this pain at the end makes it a better ending. But for the fact‑‑ but yeah, there's a story here for sure that I'm going to love to digest.
And I've been able to grow so much as a leader. I'm grateful for the process. I'm grateful Team Europe existed for this year, and as we all are in that room. I don't think you'd find one person, staff or players, that's going to say anything but that they will remember September 2016 for the journey we undertook.

Q. I'm sure you've watched every game in this tournament, whether just observing it or studying kind of game tape. As a fan of hockey, taking off the coaching hat, how would you rate the quality of play throughout this tournament?
RALPH KRUEGER: Well, I thought it was a very‑‑ it was an offensive tournament. It wasn't extremely physical. I think we all know that, which at this time of year was also probably to be expected. Every game that I was able to watch or be a part of was exciting, and I think we saw the best‑on‑best competing for this with a lot of pride. And Team Canada just rose to the top again, and the Canadian National program needs to be complimented for the players they're producing, and hopefully it makes everybody else hungry to match what's happening here in Canada.

Q. What's the most exciting memory you will cherish from this tournament? Could you share something that we don't see behind the wall?
RALPH KRUEGER: Yeah, well, the most special thing about this group is how much they enjoyed it. There was a lot of fun. They were laughing the whole time and working hard the whole time on the ice, and it was that combination which I think makes this group so special.
It's not one moment, it's kind of the journey. The most special times, of course, were the two overtime wins against the Czechs and the Swedes when even Paul Maurice told me he's Irish but he was hugging. That was pretty cool.

Q. When you got to know Sidney Crosby a little bit at the Olympics, what was your impression, and curious what your impression is of him now two years later and having done what he's done.
RALPH KRUEGER: Well, I think he's dealing with the big burden of carrying so much responsibility in a very calm way. I think it takes a lot of experiences to be able to settle into that, and he‑‑ I saw him the first time at the World Championships in Latvia, in 2006, when he rocked the world stage for the first time.
He didn't come back on that stage until 2010 in Vancouver because Pittsburgh was doing so well, and he never went to world tournaments. Since then he's just been a centerpiece in what's going on there, the commitment to playing both sides of the puck and the understanding of the need for that to be a winner.
I'm very happy for Sidney, they've won a Stanley Cup and this World Cup, again, because he is exemplary in everything he does, and just a great teammate, too.

Q. You have a prestigious position in the English Premier League with Southampton. Talk about helping out that expansion team.
RALPH KRUEGER: I've said multiple times that I came in here really just to celebrate hockey and my life in hockey with this month, and I found a group to join me, which was beautiful. But I'm very passionate about what I'm doing in Southampton right now, and I enjoy the global nature of that opportunity, and it's what I'm committed to now and in the near future.

Q. You call a time out with 1:09 left and the game is tied at that point. What are you saying to your players, and how much of your message is about pushing for the winner and was there any talk at all about just making sure you get to OT?
RALPH KRUEGER: No, we were pushing for the winner. They just had three scoring chances on the PP, and Josi had run one off the post, and there was a good feel in that group. We used the time out. It's a gut feel.
I mean, those are things you shouldn't bother second‑guessing because everything adds up for some reason, and you just have to accept your final fate in sports. At that moment in time, I would have done it any time to leave the experience of Duchene and that group which had been firing there, and we went for the win. We went for the win, and I hope everybody here realizes that.
In both games we came here to play hockey, we didn't come here to hide, and that's the way we finished, and it put a knife in us. But I'll take responsibility for that but remain extremely proud of what this group did.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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