Blue Jackets fire coach Arniel; assistant Richards takes over Staff

1/9/2012 6:29:07 PM

The Columbus Blue Jackets have fired head coach Scott Arniel. The move comes a day after the Blue Jackets were defeated 7-4 by the Anaheim Ducks in a meeting of the NHL's worst teams.

Assistant coach Todd Richards will take over on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.

The Blue Jackets are 11-25-5 this season, which has them last in the Western Conference with a league-low 27 points - 20 points out of a playoff position.

"We have two wins in our last 11 games," general manager Scott Howson said. "I just wanted to move the team in a new direction with a different head coach. Scott tried everything and he was running out of answers. I didn't see much hope in moving forward with him. I just felt this needed to be done."

Arniel is the seventh NHL coaching change this season. St. Louis, Washington, Carolina, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Montreal all previously dismissed coaches.

Arniel, who was the fifth head coach in Blue Jackets history,  was in his second season behind the bench in Columbus and was coming off a debut campaign where his team finished 13th in their conference, missing the playoffs by 16 points. He compiled a 45-60-18 record in 123 games with the club.

The 49-year-old bench boss was hired to replace veteran coach Ken Hitchcock who was fired during the 2009-10 season. 

Prior to taking the job with the Blue Jackets, Arniel was the head coach of the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.

Richards, who joined the club as an assistant coach on June 20, 2011, will make his debut behind the Blue Jackets bench on Tuesday when the club visits the Chicago Blackhawks.

"There's one emotion that's real prevalent right now and that's just disappointment," said Richards. "When somebody has to go, somebody that brought you in as a coach ... I think you feel more responsible as an assistant because you're there to support the head coach and help him out.

"You feel afterwards there's more you could have done, more you should have done."

The 45-year-old compiled a 77-71-16 record as the head coach of the Minnesota Wild from 2009-11. He was named the second head coach in Wild history on June 16, 2009 and led the club to a 38-36-8 record in 2009-10 and a 39-35-8 mark in 2010-11. Prior to joining the Wild, he served as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks in 2008-09 when the club compiled an NHL-best 53-18-11 record.