January 9, 2012
Blue Jackets fire ArnielRichards named interim coach
By SPORTS NETWORK
COLUMBUS - The Columbus Blue Jackets have fired head coach Scott Arniel and replaced him with assistant coach Todd Richards on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.
Arniel was midway through his second season with the Blue Jackets and compiled a record of 45-60-18 in 123 games. Columbus owns the NHL's worst mark this season at 11-25-5.
It's the seventh NHL coaching change this season. St. Louis, Washington, Carolina, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Montreal all previously dismissed coaches.
Arniel was the fifth full-time coach in Blue Jackets history. Columbus was 34-35-13 last year, then stumbled out of the gate this season with eight straight losses -- all but one in regulation.
The Jackets struggled through a six-game losing streak in December and have put together consecutive wins only once this season. The coaching move comes after a 7-4 loss at Anaheim on Sunday night.
"It's hard to say," Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said of why the club struggled under Arniel. "He did everything he could. He's a good coach, a good person. He worked very hard at it. The team was prepared and it just didn't work for him with this group."
Richards joined the Jackets as an assistant in June after spending the past two seasons as head coach of the Minnesota Wild. He had a record of 77-71-16 during his brief tenure in St. Paul, but the club failed to make the playoffs either season.
Prior to joining the Wild, Richards served as an assistant with San Jose for the 2008-09. He was the head coach at Pittsburgh's American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for two years from 2006-08, guiding the team to a mark of 98-49-13 with an appearance in the Calder Cup Finals in the spring of 2008.
"He'll bring a fresh approach and new approach and a new voice and we'll try to move it in the right direction," Howson said of Richards.
The 45-year-old Richards, a Minnesota native, spent most of his 13-year playing career in the minors, but did appear in eight NHL games for the Hartford Whalers between 1990-92.