Arniel qualified: Carlyle

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The 2006 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone, Vancouver Canucks GM Dave Nonis has made his first blockbuster deal and the American Hockey League meetings are wrapping up in South Carolina.

With unrestricted free agency set to open in less than a week, one would suspect that in the days ahead it will be a priority to name the new head coach of the Manitoba Moose.

Former Moose captain and assistant coach Scott Arniel remains the front-runner and got some words of encouragement from a guy he played for and worked with.

"He's a great guy and he works extremely hard at it. He's genuine and has a passion for the game. He's doing what's necessary to become a career coach," former Moose head coach Randy Carlyle, now entering his second season as bench boss of the Anaheim Ducks, said before the draft.

Carlyle believes Arniel has the tools to succeed, wherever he ends up.

"He's qualified as well as anybody to become a head coach," said Carlyle. "He's worked at the AHL level, the IHL level, the NHL level and now he's in a situation where he's got to make a decision if he wants to be a head coach," said Carlyle. "In reality, the head coaching position would be hard to acquire without some form of experience in that position."

Nonis said during the weekend that the short list for the position was down to two or three people and it shouldn't be long before a decision is announced.

One of those believed to be garnering interest was Mike Johnston, but he and Jack McIlhargey were fired by Alain Vigneault as associate coaches on Saturday.

One of the potential assistants is former Winnipeg Jets player and coach Rick Bowness, who was the head man with the Ottawa Senators when Vigneault was one of his assistants. Vigneault said he was hoping to fill out his new staff in the next seven to 10 days.


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