SUN Hockey Pool

Opportunity knocking

KEN WIEBE,QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

There are currently four head coaching vacancies in the NHL and Scott Arniel hasn’t been contacted about any of those teams — so far.

We get the feeling the calls should be coming in shortly, since the Manitoba Moose were eliminated from the Calder Cup playoffs by the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday.

Before an NHL team can interview the head coach of the Moose, they’ll need to get permission from Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, since Arniel has two more years left on his contract.

“Everything has to go through Vancouver, then I’ll have a conversation with Mike (Gillis),” said Arniel, who spent the past four seasons as head coach of the Moose. “If it’s available, I’ll go down that road once we see who is interested and where it’s heading.”

Among the NHL teams currently looking for a new bench boss are the New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Atlanta Thrashers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Arniel could be in the mix to get an interview for all four jobs and is being touted, along with Portland Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen, to be among the front-runners to become the Blue Jackets’ next head coach.

The front-runner for the Devils job appears to be John MacLean, who is currently head coach of the Lowell Devils and was in the mix the last two times the post came open.

Since joining the Moose, Arniel hasn’t hidden his desire to become an NHL head coach but he’s sticking to a set of criteria that should help him succeed in the long run.

“It has to be a situation where I’m familiar with the GM and he’s someone you feel you can work with,” said Arniel. “You have to look at the organization and the team and feel it’s a team on the rise.”

Arniel will be holding exit meetings with Moose players on Tuesday and plans to join the Canucks to assist with Alain Vigneault’s coaching staff for the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It’s the first time in four seasons the Canucks have played longer than the Moose, so it will be the first opportunity Arniel has to see how Vigneault and company run things during the post-season.

“I’d sooner be doing it ourselves, but being around an NHL playoff series, it will be nice to see how Alain and his staff handle preparation and to get a different point of view,” said Arniel. “It will also be a good experience for some of the players who go up as well, to see what pressure really is. It’s one thing to be involved in the AHL playoffs where there’s pressure, but you go up there and it’s another ball game.”

Several Moose players figure to be recalled by the Canucks in the coming days.

Among the best guesses would be goalie Cory Schneider, defenceman Evan Oberg and forwards Guillaume Desbiens, Jordan Schroeder, Mario Bliznak, Yan Stastny, Sergei Shirokov and Aaron Volpatti.


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