Scott Arniel

Columnist: Arniel “not getting job done” in Columbus


Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch has penned a scathing review of the job Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel has done this season.

With the BJs at the bottom of the NHL standings — and having won just 10 of 39 games — it’s fair to classify them as the league’s biggest disaster. Yet Arniel’s remained employed while five other coaches in less-disastrous situations have been turfed: Davis Payne, Bruce Boudreau, Randy Carlyle, Paul Maurice and Jacques Martin.

The way Arace sees it, Arniel’s should be the sixth member of that club.

Arniel has turned on players who are not to his liking (see Mike Commodore and Derick Brassard). He has admitted he is out of answers, which is something a coach should not publicly admit, even if it is true. He has increasingly directed media to “ask the players” as a way to deflect attention — or, worse, to tacitly ascribe blame.

After the Washington game, Arniel turned on the media after a benign question about the team’s struggles with four-on-four situations. He appeared unaware of this trend and, when he was enlightened, he huffed out of the news conference. It was minor-league stuff, of a kind that Dave King, Gerard Gallant, Ken Hitchcock or Doug MacLean would never stoop.

Columbus deserves a better hockey team. I have a suggestion where to start the fix.

It’s surprising Arniel’s survived this long. Upon hiring him, GM Scott Howson freely admitted that Arniel was Columbus’ second choice (the head coaching job was first offered to Guy Boucher, who opted to take the Tampa gig) — and Columbus is probably still longing for the one that got away. The Jackets are 44-58-18 over Arniel’s one-and-a-half seasons and have been consistently bad offensively, defensively and on special teams.

Even if CBJ thinks the season is lost and wants to just play out the string, it’s almost cruel to keep Arniel at the forefront of his mess for another 53 games. If it’s a money thing — hey, nobody likes paying a coach to not coach — that argument falls flat too, because Howson broke the bank this summer constructing his flawed roster.

So…why is Arniel still hanging around?

The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

James Reimer
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James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.

Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.

The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.

Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.

He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.

Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.

Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.

The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.

In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.

Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.

The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.

War of words continues between Rangers and Bruins on Saturday


The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.

After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.

On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.

“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”

The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Dubinsky to have hearing for cross-check on Crosby


Brandon Dubinsky and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will have a chat about his cross-check on Sidney Crosby.

The hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, per beat reporter Aaron Portzline.

As you can see in the above video, Dubinsky delivers a two-handed cross-check to Crosby’s neck, so the fact that he’s getting a hearing is no surprise.

“There’s no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can,” said Dubinsky. “That being said, I don’t try and do anything dirty. I felt like my stick ride up his back a little bit. He’s kind of bent over there in front. But again, that’s not the type of player I am. I’m going to play hard, but try and play fair and play in between the whistle.”

Crosby isn’t willing to give Dubinsky the benefit of the doubt.

Anyone who follows the NHL knows that Dubinsky and Crosby aren’t fans of each other.

The two have engaged in some serious battles, including this fight last February:

Report: Habs will be Price-less for the next month

Carey Price
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It looks like the Canadiens will be without star goaltender Carey Price for the next month, per RDS.

“We still don’t know what the nature of the injury is, but we’re convinced it’s his right knee,” hockey analyst François Gagnon said on a french television show on Friday. “The Canadiens are preparing for him to be out for more than a week. They’re preparing for him to be out for a month.”

Price missed nine games with a lower-body injury between Oct. 30 and Nov. 19.

The 28-year-old won all three of his starts since returning, but he was forced from Wednesday’s game against the Rangers leading some to believe he came back too soon.

After Friday’s win over the Devils, Michel Therrien denied the validity of the report.

The Canadiens will have to provide an update on Price’s injury at some point, but their camp doesn’t typically give many details when it comes to this sort of thing.