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?