Emotional Arniel on firing: “I didn’t get stupid in three months”

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Ex-Columbus coach Scott Arniel’s had over a week to digest his firing, but — as a recent interview in the Columbus Dispatch suggests — the former BJs bench boss is still having a hard time swallowing it.

Arniel spoke with Aaron Portzline and made no bones about the difficulty of moving on.

“This is something that doesn’t have a good taste to it,” Arniel said. “I don’t think I’m going to get used to it. You go through moments where you’re OK and you’re coming around and then something triggers it and you get very angry again. You get upset and you start all over with your emotions again.”

Arniel said he wasn’t surprised about being let go. The Blue Jackets were the NHL’s worst team (they still are) and given the volatile coaching market, he saw the writing on the wall.

“I’m smart enough to look around the league and notice that six guys, all of whom are probably more qualified than I am, got the same message already this season,” he said. “But it has been over a week now and it still bothers me, still gnaws at me. I hate to leave unfinished business. And look: I’ve been a coach for 13 years; I didn’t get stupid in three months.”

He might not have gotten stupid, but Arniel must wonder how this stint will affect his reputation. He went 45-60-18 over 1.5 seasons — while hardly a disastrous performance, it’s not exactly bolstering his resume.

See, losing attaches a certain stigma that can be awfully hard to shake. (NFL example — say Rod Marinelli deserves another gig. Can any GM/Owner overlook his 0-16 season with the Lions?) Arniel told Portzline how difficult all the losing was on his and the team’s psyche.

“I’ve never been through something like this where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” he said. “It’s a downward spiral that started early and we all got caught up in it. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to be around.

“You see things happening. You try to stop it from happening, but sometimes you’re helpless.”