Arniel a bridesmaid no more

New Columbus Blue Jackets head coach and former Manitoba Moose bench boss Scott Arniel. (BRIAN...

New Columbus Blue Jackets head coach and former Manitoba Moose bench boss Scott Arniel. (BRIAN DONOGH/Winnipeg Sun files)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 PM ET

This isn’t the first time Scott Arniel has been the second choice.

In his first two attempts to become the head man of the Manitoba Moose, Arniel was passed over — first by Randy Carlyle and then by Alain Vigneault.

Arniel, 47, might have been the second choice of the Columbus Blue Jackets (to Guy Boucher, who accepted the Tampa Bay Lightning vacancy), but that’s irrelevant right now.

“It doesn’t matter if I am or not,” Arniel said during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets and I’m ecstatic about that.

“I could have said no, but I didn’t. I’m happy to be here.”

By his own admission, when Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson called on Monday afternoon, Arniel wasn’t sure which way things were going to go.

“Actually, percentage-wise, I thought it was 75-25 the other way, where I wasn’t going to get the job,” said Arniel.

By the time the conversation was complete, Arniel had accepted a three-year deal and was taking over for interim head coach Claude Noel.

What can’t be argued is that Arniel has paid his dues — from his days as an assistant coach with the Moose to his three seasons as an assistant under Lindy Ruff to the past four seasons as Moose head man.

The long run back to the NHL is sure to make Arniel appreciate his first head coaching job in The Show.

“You get beat up along the way as a coach,” said Arniel, who posted a record of 181-106-16-17 record and helped the Moose reach the Calder Cup final in 2009. “You live some fun times and some good times. You have sleepless nights, you have nights when you sleep like a baby and I don’t think that will ever change.

“My parents have always told me to work hard at what you do and the results will come. That’s what I always try to do every day. Living by that and doing that has helped me get to where I am right now. I’m not going to change in that department and hopefully I can continue to have success.”

Arniel admits he was a little nervous stepping to the podium in Ohio for his unveiling.

“It was real nerve-racking,” said Arniel. “I’ve handled the media before, but this one obviously is a big stage. I was trying not to get my tongue tied and fall all over myself. I’ve pitted out the shirt I’m wearing.”

Nerves aside, Arniel believes the Blue Jackets are a team on the rise.

“There is talent there waiting to be harvested,” said Arniel. “There’s a lot of pieces that are already in place and that’s what I find intriguing.”

Howson was impressed by Arniel during the interview process and is excited to bring him on board.

“He has a track record of success as a head coach, both in terms of winning and developing young hockey players,” Howson wrote in an e-mail Monday afternoon. “He has high hockey intelligence and has strong communication skills.”

Arniel said there was no time-table for naming his coaching staff, but one of the names linked in the process is former Moose assistant coach Brad Berry.

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


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