Photo courtesy of MCT
The National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets have fired coach Scott Arniel.
Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson announced Monday morning that Arniel, whose Blue Jackets had posted a league-worst 11-25-5 record and 27 points in the league standings, was relieved of his duties.
Howson said that he had made up his mind this past weekend that he needed to make a change during a Monday address to the media.
“I divided our season into three parts. The first part was a tough start and I didn’t think it was a fair basis of evaluation,” Howson said. “Really, if you look at our record from the middle of November to the middle of December, it was pretty good. We were playing good hockey. In the 11 games since then, we only had two wins and our play seemed to be regressing, so I just thought it was time to move the team in a new direction.”
Arniel was named the fifth coach of the Blue Jackets in June 2010, and Howson said it is hard to say why Arniel didn’t succeed at Nationwide Arena.
“(Arniel) did everything he could,” Howson said. “He’s a good coach. He’s a good person. He worked very hard at it and prepared, and it just didn’t work for him with this group.”
Columbus assistant coach Todd Richards will now serve as interim head coach.
Richards said the prevalent emotion on the day of his promotion is “disappointment.”
“I’ve been the head guy getting fired, I’ve been underneath the head guy getting fired,” Richards said. “I think you feel more responsible as an assistant because you’re there to support the head coach.”
Richards joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant on June 20, having spent the previous two seasons as head coach of the Minnesota Wild. Richards’ Wild went 77-71-16 from 2009-11. Minnesota posted a 38-36-8 record in his first season and a 39-35-8 mark in 2010-11.
Richards said Monday that his thoughts remain with Arniel and that he hasn’t allowed himself to consider possible lineups for the Blue Jackets ahead of the team’s game today against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I’ve got a list of ‘to-do’s,'” Richards said. “Eventually, I’ll have to meet with the players. I don’t think it’s big changes. It’s little tweaks.”