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Scott Arniel questions reporters, realizes they’re right, complains some, then storms off

Jan 1, 2012, 2:57 PM EDT

Scott Arniel Getty Images

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.

/walks away

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.

  1. 10kmp - Jan 1, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    I know very little about hockey, and quite honestly that’s probably giving myself too much credit. However, since I live in Columbus I find myself following the Blue Jackets casually. Being a “casual” fan at best I have to ask the hockey enthusiasts on here a question: How is it possible that Arniel has survived to this point? It’s been my impression that the NHL as a whole is quickest, by a wide margin, to make coaching changes as compared to other professional sports leagues, i.e. NFL, MLB and NBA. How does a guy with a winning percentage as bad as Arniel’s manage to stick around? In addition, and maybe even more of a mystery to me, is how Scott Howson has kept his job. Aside from the two big pick-ups made this past summer, Howson has made the conscious decision to stand pat in terms of talent for quite a while now hasn’t he??? This organization is just a loser. There is no other word for it. How can the people in charge of this abomination let this continue? These people, all of them, are making very nice livings driving this franchise straight into the ground.

    • east96st - Jan 1, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      The President of the Blue Jackets is Mike Priest. He was the McConnell’s (the majority owner) financial advisor. He is the final and clear decision maker for the franchise. As a “casual fan” would you hire your stockbroker to run your hockey team if you had a team? Silly question, right? What possible experience would a stockbroker have running a hockey team? Yet, that’s what the Jackets have done. You can see the results for yourself. The only way out of this hell is for the NHL to make McConnell sell the team to an owner that understands this franchise is so horribly damaged from years of gross incompetence that it will take three years of rebuilding to just to clean up SOME of the mess that ownership and management has made. As long as Mike Priest is the captain of this ship, you can expect that the team will be a bad joke for years to come. BTW- don’t look now, but your taxes are going to be used to keep this disaster afloat. The deal is all but done.

      • hrosenzweig - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        As I understand it, the “deal” to keep the jackets afloat does not involve tax dollars at all. Rather, it uses the city’s casino revenue. As I am a Jackets fan, and I voted against the local casino (as did 59% of central Ohio voters), and i have nearly no intention of ever visiting the casino, it doesn’t bother me a bit. I agree that Mike Priest has to go. I also think that bringing in a true #1 goalie would make a huge difference. The recent drafts (under Howson) have been productive, and there is a core of good, NHL players. There are a few minor leaguers who shouldn’t be there, but in the expansion era, every team has them.

  2. oquintero99 - Jan 1, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    I wonder that myself. Dont know how much longer will it take to ire Arniel and the Gm. Cant get any worse than this

  3. pavelfitzgerald - Jan 2, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Believe it or not Scott Arniel is a very smart man & good hockey coach, unfortunately it hasn’t happened for him in Columbus. I watched in Winnipeg for 3 years as the Manitoba Moose head coach & he looked poised to follow Randy Carlye & Alain Vingaults footsteps to being a good NHL coach. The Blue Jackets can nt get healthy, Steve Mason went from being a young, “star” goalie to a below average goalie in a year & they’ve missed on too many draft picks. I feel bad for Arniel. Howson deserves more of the blame here then Arniel does

  4. east96st - Jan 2, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    hrosen – You are right about it being casino dollars. You couldn’t be more wrong that those dollars don’t equal tax dollars. I voted against the casinos myself. The primary reason was that it was such a poor deal for the city. The amount of revenue the casino will give back to Columbus was barely enough to pay for the increased traffic issues, the need to expand the highways, increased police costs, and all the social ills that come with legalized gambling. Diverting what few dollars the city was due to receive to prop up the Jackets means you and I will either pay more in taxes and/or suffer a lower quality of life. Even as a fan, I have zero sympathy for the Jackets financial woes. My 11 year old could have told them that the arena deal with Nationwide was horrible. Yet, McConnell claimed, repeatedly before his death, that he was “advised” it was a “good deal”. By who?!? There’s NO excuse for signing away ALL the arena revenues when the Islanders have been struggling with a bad lease for over four decades. “Mr. Mc” wanted his hockey team, future expenses be damned. So, even though, it may be indirect, we WILL, in fact, be paying our tax dollars to prop up this house of cards. As for your claim that there is “a core of good, NHL players” and that “every team” has a few “minor league players” – I hate to bash a fellow fan. We have suffered enough. But, what you wrote, could have been any Blue Jacket press release for the last ten years. It’s a myth. There isn’t a good core of players and NOT every team has bad players on their roster. If that was true, the Jackets would be competitive. They aren’t. 11 years and ZERO playoff wins. Face it, my brother in blue, we are fans of the League’s worst team and as long as this management and ownership team is in place, we are never going to see a team that has the potential – not saying it HAS to happen, just potential – to win the Cup or even pose a challenge for the eventual winner. I know no fan can expect their team to win the Cup every year. But don’t you dream of being like a Detroit or a Chicago where you at least have a fighting chance?

  5. stebutt - Jan 2, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Surely as a head coach you should know that. I don’t know the stats but it seems like every other game the blue jackets are throwing a lead away. That they’re going ahead shows some promise, but to keep blowing a lead smacks both of bad coaching and a lack of mental toughness.

  6. bgnd91 - Jan 2, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    The problem is Columbus’ played development system sucks. Look at their first round picks since they came into existence:

    2011: None
    2010: Ryan Johansen (4th overall)
    2009: John Moore (21st overall)
    2008: Nikita Filatov (6th overall)
    2007: Jakub Voracek (7th overall)
    2006: Derick Brassard (6th overall)
    2005: Gilbert Brule (6th overall)
    2004: Alex Picard (8th overall)
    2003: Nikolai Zherdev (4ht overall)
    2002: Rick Nash (1st overall)

    I understand some players don’t pan out, but really? They “missed” on first round picks six straight years after Nash (and the jury is definitely still out on Moore and Johansen). In my opinion, that reflects poorly on the player development system. Either way you slice it, when nine of the first 10 drafts your franchise has are top-10 picks, and you only end up with one all-star, that reveals severe dysfunction somewhere in the process.

    • bgnd91 - Jan 2, 2012 at 6:55 PM

      whoops, throw in Pascal Leclaire (8th) in 2001 and Rosty Klesla (4th) in 2000. But still, that just furthers my point.

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