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Krueger agrees to lengthy contract

Krueger signs the contract that could make him Switzerland's longest-serving coach Keystone

Switzerland's national ice hockey coach, Ralph Krueger, has signed an extension to his contract which could see him manage the Swiss team until 2006.

The Swiss Ice Hockey Association announced the news under the banner “Krueger for ever”, pointing out that in professional sport six years can seem like an eternity.

The 41-year-old German-Canadian is set to become Switzerland’s longest-serving coach ever, if he sees out the full length of his new contract. Both sides can sever the agreement if the team performs badly.

According to the contract’s wording, bad performance would involve the Swiss national team being relegated from the world’s top group of nations and then failing to win promotion in the following year.

Considering the success that has led to the new contract, though, neither side wanted to talk about failure. After watching Krueger take the team to the quarter-finals of the last three world championships, national association president Werner Kohler was optimistic that the coach would continue to impress.

“We will be going with Krueger to the next six world championships, and hopefully to the next two Olympics,” Kohler said.

No details were disclosed as to Krueger’s salary but it’s thought he will earn somewhere between Sfr 300,000 and 400,000 per season. As in previous years Krueger will be employed on a 70 per cent basis, allowing him time to fulfil other business engagements.

Krueger himself said he had never had any doubts about signing such a long-term contract.

“For me and my family, nowhere could be better than Switzerland and our home town of Davos. The Association is fully behind me, I can feel their support. And it’s a great joy for me to be able to continue working with the team which has been built up over the last three years.”

As well as announcing his new contract, Krueger used Thursday’s press conference to name his squad for November’s friendly against Canada and for the Germany Cup in Hannover.

There were few surprises in the line-up which is roughly the same as the squad which travelled to May’s world championships. As expected, the Swiss players involved in the North American leagues will not be taking part.

Also missing will be Ambri forward Alain Demuth, who is injured, and Lugano forward Flavien Conne who is spending time with his seriously ill father.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR