If recent rumours are any indication, it may soon be time for Scott Arniel to join the NHL coaching fraternity. Arniel, the 47-year-old head coach of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, the top minor-league affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, is reportedly a frontrunner for the head coaching position in Columbus as the Blue Jackets look to replace interim head coach Claude Noel.
After retiring as a player following the 1998-99 season, Arniel was an assistant coach of the (formerly IHL, now AHL) Houston Aeros for three seasons, before becoming an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres for four seasons. Arniel became head coach of the Manitoba Moose in 2006 and has been there the past four seasons, compiling a regular season record of 181 wins, 106 losses, and 33 overtime/shootout losses in that span. His most successful season was 2008-09, when the Moose reached the Calder Cup finals, losing to the Hershey Bears in six games. For his efforts that year, Arniel won the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as AHL Coach of the Year.
Arniel has been successful at developing players with the Moose, graduating such players as Alex Edler, Jannik Hansen, and Michael Grabner to the parent Canucks.
Players who have served time under Arniel have had good things to say about their coach. Jason Krog noted that Arniel was “very innovative with his coaching and the systems we play,” and also said, “He doesn’t limit creativity. I think guys respect that.” Nolan Baumgartner said, “He knows his stuff and his biggest strength is how he can teach the systems that he puts in place.”
If the Blue Jackets do hire Scott Arniel, hockey fans in Columbus are likely to see an offensively capable, defensively responsible team: In Arniel’s first three seasons with the Moose, they did not finish lower than third overall in goals against, and were in the top half in goals scored.