Scott Arniel

Ben Scrivens, Thomas Vanek

PHT Morning Skate: Where Thomas Vanek is thinking about Austria

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Thomas Vanek might be a former Minnesota Golden Gopher, but the lockout has him thinking of going back home to Austria. (Niagara Gazette)

Former Jackets coach Scott Arniel is itching to get going in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. (The Province)

Terry Murray is looking to do the same in Glens Falls, NY with the Adirondack Phantoms, his fifth stint with the Flyers organization. (Philly.com)

Dustin Byfuglien wants to be in the Norris Trophy discussion. (Winnipeg Sun)

David Clarkson is cool with staying at home for now. (Fire & Ice)

Sabres assistant coach is used to all this lockout stuff both as a player and now behind the bench. (Winnipeg Sun)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is itching to get things started in Oklahoma City during the lockout. (Globe And Mail)

Report: Arniel chooses Vancouver over San Jose? (Update — yes, he did)

Scott Arniel
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According to Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press, ex-Blue Jackets bench boss Scott Arniel is finalizing a deal with the Vancouver Canucks to become head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.

If accurate, it would refute an earlier report that Arniel was set to become Todd McLellan’s assistant in San Jose.

Arniel, 49, was fired by Columbus in January after a dismal 11-25-5 start to the campaign. He’s been out of work since, but sounded as though he’d relish the opportunity to get back in the coaching ranks, regardless of league.

“It is interesting,” Arniel said earlier this month regarding the AHL Chicago gig. “As a coach, you’re always looking at opportunities. I want to be an NHL head coach again but I don’t know if there is anything for me this year. Certainly there are some assistant jobs available but this one [Wolves] is intriguing.”

That Arniel (reportedly) picked the Canucks organization isn’t much of a surprise. He coached Vancouver’s farm team when it was in Manitoba, from 2006-10.

Update: Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch said he’s spoken with Arniel and yes, he has taken the AHL Chicago job.

Sharks primed to add Scott Arniel as assistant coach

Scott Arniel
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Many believe that the San Jose Sharks’ coaching staff lacked NHL experience beyond head coach Todd McLellan. Now they’re set to add a guy who fits that bill, although his most recent experience could probably be described as “harrowing.” Roger Millions reports that the team is on the verge of giving an assistant coaching gig to former Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel.

To be fair to Arniel, he didn’t have nearly as much to work with in Columbus as he would in San Jose – assistant or not. Matthew Taylor does bring up a potential downside, though: if Arniel and Rick Nash left off on bad terms, it wouldn’t help the Sharks’ chances of nabbing the big trade target.

At the same time, Arniel likely deserves some benefit of the doubt, especially since he’d be in an assistant role. This could be the first of a few pivotal moves for a Sharks team that still has plenty of questions to answer this summer.

Report: Canucks eyeing ex-Columbus coach Arniel for AHL gig

Scott Arniel
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According to the Vancouver Sun, the Canucks might turn back the clock in finding a replacement for Craig MacTavish, who recently left his heading coaching post with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Chicago.

Scott Arniel — the former Columbus bench boss who coached Vancouver’s farm team when it was in Manitoba — is being considered as the club’s next coach.

“Scotty would be on our list, for sure,” said Canucks assistant GM Lorne Henning. “There will probably be five or six guys and Scotty will be one.”

Arniel was fired by Columbus in January after a dismal 11-25-5 start to the campaign. He’s been out of work since, but sounded as though he’d relish the opportunity to get back in the coaching ranks, regardless of league.

“It is interesting,” Arniel told the Sun. “As a coach, you’re always looking at opportunities. I want to be an NHL head coach again but I don’t know if there is anything for me this year. Certainly there are some assistant jobs available but this one [Wolves] is intriguing.

“I know the organization very well and I’ve obviously worked with Mike Gillis and Lorne and Laurence Gilman. There is lots of respect there and I think we’ve had a really good arrangement in the past.”

Vancouver would need to speak with Columbus prior to officially contacting Arniel as he’s still under contract. That said, there does seem to be interest in having him coach the club’s prized prospects in Chicago, as Arniel has a reputation for working well with young players.

Current NHLers that played under him in Manitoba include Cory Schneider, Alex Edler, Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen, Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner.

Blue Jackets drop interim tag, hire Todd Richards on full time as head coach

Todd Richards
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Apparently Todd Richards impressed Blue Jackets brass.

Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch reports the Jackets have dropped the interim tag on Richards’ position with the team and hired him on full-time to a two-year deal to coach the team. As Portzline notes, the Blue Jackets got to be a better late-game team under Richards than they were with previous head coach Scott Arniel.

Still, the Jackets went 18-21-2 under Richards. That includes an 11-8-0 record after March 1 and wins in five of their last six games, as the Jackets embraced the role of playoff spoiler down the stretch. One of the biggest struggles under Arniel was holding onto leads in the third period, but the Jackets went 14-0 under Richards when they led after 40 minutes.

That record isn’t exactly glowing but given how bad and downtrodden the team was with Arniel, Richards is a veritable miracle worker in comparison. The Jackets will now be on the hunt for a new assistant coach or two for Richards to have help out. One thing Richards won’t have yet is certainty on just who he’ll be coaching next season.

With Rick Nash rumors sure to fly again this summer as well as GM Scott Howson’s insistence that things change in goal, Richards will potentially have a lot of molding to do when training camp opens in September.