Monday, January 9, 2012


Scott Arniel was relieved of his duties as the coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets today, according to the Columbus Dispatch.  Arniel, hired in a coaching search at the end of the 2009-10 season finished with a record of 45-60-18.

Arniel was hired to bring an up-tempo, puck possession style of play to the CBJ after several years of playing a 'defense first' style of game.  He leaves a team that is still stuck in that transition, with part of the team built for a checking style they can still play (see the 1-0 victory over the LA Kings), and other parts of the team making an easier transition to that style (Letestu, Nikitin).  After playing well in spurts in the 2010-11 season (October, January), the team never really jelled in the 2011-12 season, in spite of significant off-season player personnel acquisitions.

I'm not sure the team ever really 'got it', whatever it was that Arniel was preaching, and the team lacked fluidity.  Arniel did teach them how to transition the puck well, and even in the disjointed loss against Anaheim last night they seemed to do that well.  But the team did not seem to be sure what he wanted them to do once they were out of the transition in the offensive zone, and they didn't seem to sure about what he wanted defensively either. And, Arniel did not receive the gift of solid goal tending.

Poppin' the Trey

A fixture on Arniel's offense was a winger coming down the ice leading the rush, and throwing a shot from the wall at the top of the circle, a very low percentage shot, while everyone else was still coming up the ice.  Vermette was especially prone to this maneuver.  The goal tender would deflect this easily defended shot into the corner to be picked up by a defenseman, and the puck would go the other way.

The basketball analogy for this is a guard leading the break up the court, then pulling up at the 3 point line to launch a long range jump shot.  Its not a real good offensive choice, and usually results in possession going right back to the other team.  For the CBJ, I think this was a manifestation of Arniel's 'get the puck to the net' philosophy, but it tended to be ineffective.  For lack of a better term, it seemed like Arniel did not have a really fixed idea of a half court offense (another basketball analogy).  They did not often seem like they had a plan for attacking the other teams defense, while the reverse often seemed true, that the other team had a definite plan for attacking the CBJ defense.   In that regard, I think there is coaching talent out there that could be a little more defined in these areas.

Scott Arniel got a fair shot in Columbus.  But it didn't turn out real well.  It is time to move on.

The new 30% minority owner, Nationwide Insurance, sits down with the ownership group for the first time on January 16.  What will the direction be from there?


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