WINNIPEG, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 20: Heach coach Scott Arniel of the Columbus Blue Jackets has some Winnipeg Jet fans show him who they are cheering for at the MTS Centre on September 20, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Scott Arniel has been fired as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The second-year coach has led his team into the basement this 2011-12 season, and it's only surprising that the decision to let him go took so long.
After four months of coaching the worst team in the NHL, Scott Arniel is out of job. The Columbus Blue jackets fired Arniel Monday morning, one night after their loss to the NHL's second-worst club, the Anaheim Ducks. Assistant coach Todd Richards will take over for Arniel for the remainder of the season.
The Blue Jackets had high expectations this season, which began as the second full season of Arniel's reign behind the bench. Offseason acquisitions James Wisniewski and Jeff Carter were expected to help the Jackets towards a second-ever playoff berth. But that never happened. Carter has been injured for much of the season, while Wisniewski missed the first eight games of the season with a suspension handed down in the preseason.
It's all unraveled from there. Some things have certainly been outside Arniel's control, like injuries and suspensions and the like, but it's been clear for quite some time that the coach lost his team very early in the year. It perhaps came to a head just last week, when Arniel blew up at reporters over a seemingly simple question.
ARNIEL: Have you noticed that on 4 on 4 we've been beaten up on 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.
REPORTER: You've been outscored eight to one.
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 we'll have to work on that too. So just keep piling it on, whatever you want just keep piling it on."
Richards, who joined Arniel's staff this past summer after being let go as head coach of the Minnesota Wild, has his work cut out for him between now and April if he wants to turn that interim tag into a permanent gig. In Columbus, though, who knows if that's what he wants.
For more on the Blue Jackets and the firing of Arniel, check in with Blue Jackets blog The Cannon.