Blog Entry

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Posted on: January 9, 2012 9:52 am
Edited on: January 9, 2012 7:00 pm
Arniel1By: Adam Gretz

On Monday morning the Columbus Blue Jackets pulled the trigger on a move that had been anticipated for some time now.

The team fired head coach Scott Arniel following a 7-4 loss in Anaheim on Sunday that dropped the Blue Jackets to a league-worst 11-25-5. Arniel will be replaced on an interim basis by former Minnesota Wild head coach Todd Richards.

It seems like this is a move that probably should have taken place some time ago given how bad the Blue Jackets were from the start of the season, roaring out of the gate by losing their first eight games and 10 of their first 11. It was a massive hole that was (and still is) too deep to overcome, and it's getting deeper by the day. Right now there are only seven teams in the NHL that are more than five points out of a potential playoff spot. The Blue Jackets are 20 points back.

A couple weeks ago general manager Scott Howson refused to place the blame on the coaching staff, and talked about how the team was going to look to be active in the trade market.

Obviously, there were some problems in Columbus. Young, skilled players like Derrik Brassard and Ryan Johansen were relegated to fourth-line duty, or even the press box on some nights, with Brassard's agent, Allan Walsh, putting the crosshairs on Arniel for, in Walsh's words, "a history of burying players and using them as scapegoats to mask his own lack of success on the ice."

Whether or not Arniel was a good or bad coach, or if a change needed to be made (it's pretty obvious something needed to happen), the situation in Columbus has been ugly in every possible way. Injuries have piled up, including the most recent one for summer acquisition Jeff Carter on Sunday, while the goaltending, particularly from former Calder Trophy winner Steve Mason, has been among the worst in the league. The Blue Jackets currently have the second-worst team save percentage in the NHL at .893, narrowly ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning. On an individual level the only goalie with a worse mark than Mason's .883 is Dwayne Roloson.

Arniel ended up lasting just a season-and-a-half in Columbus as the team put together a 45-60-18 record during his time with the team. The Blue Jackets have won just eight games in regulation since November 24 ... of 2010.

His replacement for the time being, Richards, was the head coach in Minnesota during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and put together a 77-71-16 record. He was replaced this offseason by Mike Yeo.

Here is Howson talking to the media about the decision.

More on the NHL's coaching carousel

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Nov 12, 2011
Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:47 pm

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

I think Richards problem in Minnesota was the same as his predecessor - a slow team. I think Richards approach to the game might fit the talent/skill of the Blue Jackets a bit better than it fit in Minnesota, but if the problem in Columbus isn't the coaching, then what? We fire Richards?

Note the GM that got rid of Hitchcock is the same GM brought him back as a consulting just over a year later and then waiting too long to reinstate him as coach and now Hitchcock is winning in St. Louis. I don't think the problem was ever Hitchcock. It would take a lot to convince me that Richards is the solution.

I would imagine that Craig Patrick has a handle on what the Blue Jacket problems are and I wonder if the Arniel firing is the first pull of the trigger on Patrick's advice. I'm wondering if there is a much larger list of actions Patrick would take to turn the Blue Jackets around, but without the personnel and being so late in the season, they just can't take action on other items on the list.

Since: Jun 14, 2009
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:49 pm

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Not sure if Richards will be any better.  We watched him the last 2 years here in Minny, and wasn't any different that Lemaire.

Since: Apr 19, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:19 am

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Well that only took a month and a half to long!!!

Since: Oct 13, 2011
Posted on: January 9, 2012 11:24 pm

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Hopefully they can crawl out from the bottom of the central.

Since: Dec 5, 2011
Posted on: January 9, 2012 8:59 pm

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Geez it doesn't take much to get fired in pro sports anymore.

Since: Nov 12, 2011
Posted on: January 9, 2012 8:28 pm

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Danabastrd and Terfra1: Great posts!

Go ahead and gloat over getting Hitchcock. Look at what he's accomplished there in St. Louis. Let's not forget that they only "failure" on Hitch's resume is Columbus. It's the only franchise that he wasn't able to take to the playoffs his first full season as the coach. And then he got fired by the Blue Jackets. (BTW: Hitch's record as the coach of the Blue Jackets was 125-123-36; other than Claude Noel's 10-8-6 record in 2010, Hitch is not only the winningest coach in Blue Jacket's history, but only one of two with a winning record (if Noel counts) and the only one that has taken the Jacket's to the playoffs.) I think they Jackets realized that it is more of a locker room issue than the coach and got rid of a few guys and brought Hitch back this season as a consultant at the beginning of the season. Talk here in town was that Hitch was in the wings when they decided to can Arniel - and then they waited. *DUH!!*

I understand why Arniel was fired - the team has been so incredibly inconsistent and had trouble playing a full 60 minutes. They have blow at least 7 matches with leads heading into the third period. Saturday they play the Kings to a 1-0 victory and then get blown at the next night in Anaheim (yes, the second worst team in the league) 7-4. They were already down 4-1 at the end of the first period and the Kings starting goalie got injured in the first and left the game!! Ugh!!

I don't think Carter is a problem a problem in the locker room. Nash and Carter would probably have better chemistry if Carter hadn't been injured so much of the season. The Jacket's signed Mark Dekanich to a one-year contract and when he finally got off injured reserved they assigned him to Springfield. In Springfield he's only played 1 game. Allen York and Paul Dainton only played 5 games total and gave up a combined 23 goals and are inactive (sent down to junior teams fron the AHL). Manny Lagace and Danny Taylor have as bad or worse GAA in the AHL than Mason and Sanford in the NHL. Our leader in points (7 goals, 25 assists) in Springfield is Martin St. Pierre who is 28 years old, 5'9" and 183 lbs which seems to me to be small for a center. Our leading goal scorer in Springfield is Cam Atkinson (19 goals, 10 assists) is young (22) but this right winger is only 5'8", 175 lbs. Don't these guys seem really small?

I keep hearing about how great our young players are, our draft picks, our development system has talent, etc. Where is it? After 11 years, shouldn't we see something more than just Nash from all of this? Scott Howson has been around as the General Manager for 4 and a half years. He finally brought in some help on evaluating talent when they got Craig Patrick at the beginning of December. After a month of watching the Jackets and evaluating development system, the first move they make is firing Arniel. That is telling me that our cupboards are bare and we have no one ready to step up and get any playing time in the big leagues. Why?

Here is the outcome of the Jacket's top draft pick each year:

2000  4th Rostislav Klesla (D)     got beat up and is gone (only 16 games with Phoenix and 1 pt this season)
2001  8th Pasal Leclaire (G)   injured and traded for Antoine Vermette (good move - Pasal is out of league)
2002  1st Rick Nash (W) on team
2003  4th Nikolai Zherdev (W)   problem - traded with Fritsche for - Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman (plays in Sweden)
2004   8th Alexandre Picard (W) never played one than 23 games in one season for the Jackets, traded in 2010 for Chad Kolarik who only played 2 games for the Jackets and then traded for Dane Byers who is in Springfield with 19 points in 28 games
2005  6th Gilbert Brule (C) traded in 2008 to Edmonton for Raffi Torres who left Jackets in 2009-2010 season
2006  6th  Derick Brassard (C) on team and played 33 games this season (14 points)
2007  7th Jakub Voracek (W)  traded to Philadelphia in Carter trade
2008  6th Nikita Filatov (W) traded for 3rd round pick to Ottawa and then left to play in Russia
2009  21st John Moore (D)   on team and played in 30 games this season (4 points)
2010  4th  Ryan Johansen (C)  on team and played in 35 games this season (14 points)
2011  37th Boone Jenner (C)  playing for Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Doesn't seem to be very successful, but maybe some hope?

Both of you guys think the team should reboot - I agree. I also agree with the idea of chaning the name, colors, uniforms, etc. Columbus Comets? Ice blue, silver, and black. Anything to change the taste in the mouth of the fans.

But I must give a hand to the hockey fans in Columbus. A  lot of people didn't think a team could survive in Columbus since everyone is so into Ohio State. With the fickleness of the Columbus fans with OSU basketball (hot and cold depending on the team), I'm really impressed that the team was so successful selling out for so long and that there are still so many trying to hang in there as a fan. I have to admit that this year I've actually tried to avoid hearing about how the Cleveland Browns are doing because I just can't stand to here what is going on up there anymore. This has been an awful year as a Jacket's fan too. On paper in October, this is perhaps the best team we were to put on the ice. However, if the second 41 games go exactly as the first, we'll end the season 22-50-10 (54 points), the worst season in franchise history.

Another thing that is interesting (and show the waning interest in the Blue Jackets): there is only one page of comments on this article and it has been up more than 10 hours.

Since: Feb 26, 2009
Posted on: January 9, 2012 8:27 pm

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Time to can teh GM now.  This was his hire.  Al of the bad contracts are his doing.  There is no one else to blame for the mess this team is in.

Since: Sep 28, 2006
Posted on: January 9, 2012 5:30 pm

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Blues fan here.  I'm not going to gloat about Columbus losing Hitchcock to St. Louis.  I think it sucks that the Columbus fans have so little success to show for their support over the years and I want Columbus to improve.  But I am VERY greatful that Armstrong here in St. Louis was aggressive in his pursuit of Hitchcock a couple of months ago when it was clear our youngish team wasn't responding to Davis Payne.

Here's a CBS Sportsline piece from back then:  http://eye-on-hockey.blogs.cbssport


What I'm wondering today though is how the hell Howson could wait so long to make a move?  The Blues were 7-6 at the time and our leadership stepped up.  Didn't Columbus start 0-8?  Was it an effort to look stable that led them to wait so long?  Was it the owner trying not to lose fans in the seats by showing that they were heading down the same tracks?  I'm not even arguing that they should've put Hitchcock behind the bench.  I know he's had some issues with young teams in the past himself.  But halfway through another wasted season before making a change?  Did all the injuries give them the excuse to sit still?

Bottom line = Ouch.

Good luck Columbus fans.  You deserve better.  

Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: January 9, 2012 4:26 pm

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Coaching in the NHL is a whole different thing than any other level.. I would say this is the best thing Bluejackets could start with.  They must have enough talent to at least win more games than they have.  Just be a defensive shell team and they could have been better.. ( I know, easy to say...).   The players must be pretty much mailing in every game now.  Likely they need to wipe many out of Columbus just to change their attitudes.  But Starting with the coach is the right move.

Since: Oct 23, 2011
Posted on: January 9, 2012 1:36 pm

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

I have lived in Columbus since the Jackets were added to the NHL. I have been a fan since also. This team has gave me very little to root for in 11 years. I dont know if Arniel was the problem, but he wasnt the solution. I am still reeling about Hitch being GIVEN to the Blues. The probltm here is a snowball effect, no talent to win games, no coaching to win games talent wont win you, no money to aquire talent, no fans to fill seats to have money.Its all bad but i will still root. Call me a dummy, i dont mind. GO JACKETS!!

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