Blue Jackets lower boom on Arniel, rebuilding continues

That boom you heard this morning? Another NHL coach was fired in a move that was seen coming for some time.

The league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets ended the Scott Arniel era by parting ways with him Monday morning. Todd Richards, former coach of the Minnesota Wild, takes over for the remainder of the season.

Arniel’s dismissal comes at the midpoint of the season, one that’s going to end without a playoff appearance for a third straight season for Columbus, currently sporting an 11-25-5 record.

"We have two wins in our last 11 games,'' general manager Scott Howson told ESPN.com. "I just wanted to move the team in a new direction with a different head coach. Scott tried everything and he was running out of answers. I didn't see much hope in moving forward with him. I just felt this needed to be done."

Arniel becomes the seventh coach to be let go by the Blue Jackets. Two of them – Ken Hitchcock and Claude Noel - have resurfaced this season with great success.

A Stanley Cup winner with the Dallas Stars, Hitchcock took over in St. Louis for the fired Davis Payne and has the Blues contending for the Central Division crown. Noel was given the honor of being the Jets’ first coach since their relocation from Atlanta, and he has Winnipeg contending for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots.

For now, Arniel joins the likes of Dave King, Gerard Gallant and Gary Agnew as those who tried – and ultimately failed – in a hockey market that’s questionable at best. Roddy Marciano, a poster on the Columbus Dispatch's website, summed up fans' frustrations succinctly:

"Like that's going to change a thing, columbus will always be the black hole of the NHL, give me a break. We couldn't be any more irrelevant when it comes to sports."
And from Ohiosucks:
"The whole team needs fired. This is a garbage product and always has been."

The powers that be in Ohio's capital city didn't expect this to happen. The Blue Jackets were active in the offseason, acquiring three-time 30-goal scorer Jeff Carter from Philadelphia and adding James Wisniewski - at $33 million for six years (???) - to bolster the blueline.

Instead, Carter missed 10 games with a broken foot and is out indefinitely with a separated left shoulder. Wisniewski was suspended for the first eight games of the season for an intentional elbow to the head and is not expected back before mid-February due to a broken ankle.

Add captain Rick Nash headed for one of the worst statistical seasons of his career and Steve Mason looking more like the second coming of Jim Carey, and it's another lost season in central Ohio.

Don’t be shocked if Howson is next to be shown the door.

No comments: