There was a rather uncomfortable scene at the podium last night following Columbus’ 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals. Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel — clearly pissed about his team blowing a two-goal lead by allowing four goals in the third period — didn’t take too kindly to one reporter’s query.
Arniel was asked about his team’s lacklustre 4-on-4 play (Columbus allowed two goals in 28 seconds at 4-on-4) by WBNS-FM reporter Lori Schmidt, which set off a mini-tirade. The only available video has a “Blair Witch” quality to it, so I’ll provide you the transcript.
Schmidt: You’ve got skilled players, but on 4-on-4 where you think that skill would show up, it hasn’t necessarily treated you kindly…
Arniel: They have skill too, if you didn’t notice. They had all their skill out there too. They made a skill play and I don’t think Mase [Steve Mason] even saw that one where they had traffic in front, they threw a wrister up from way up top that found its way into the net.
Schmidt: But throughout the season, have you noticed something on 4-on-4?
Arniel: Have you noticed that 4-on-4 that we’ve been beaten up 4-on-4? Goals against? I don’t think so. I’ll go and show you the stats on that if you want. That hasn’t been a problem for us, but it was tonight
Random reporter: You’ve been outscored 8-1.
Arniel: Is that what it is? Okay, well I guess you guys have all the answers and are just waiting to jump, so…I guess well have to work on that too. So just keep piling it on, whatever you want, just keep piling on.
It’s unsurprising that Arniel’s reached his breaking point. The Jackets have been consistently awful and are dead last in the NHL, yet he’s avoided execution (or, it could be argued, a mercy killing) whereas five other coaches haven’t. The two teams directly ahead of Columbus in the standings — 29th-place Anaheim and 28th-place Carolina — turfed their coaches in an effort to turn things around, yet the BJs remain defiant.