Blue Jackets fans' tough weekend has spilled over into Monday.
First came the news on Friday that the proposed NHL realignment plan, which would've stood to benefit Columbus perhaps more than any other team, was shot down by Donald Fehr the NHLPA. Now, after yet another aggravating loss, comes news that the organization has parted ways with head coach Scott Arniel.
According to Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets have fired Arniel despite hiring him prior to the 2010-11 season. Assistant coach Todd Richards will take over as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Arniel is the seventh head coach to be fired this season around the NHL.
The move comes on the heels of the latest Blue Jackets head-scratching loss, a 7-4 defeat at the hands of the also-lowly Anaheim Ducks last night.
Portzline reports that general manager Scott Howson informed Arniel of the team's decision after the game and Arniel flew out of Anaheim earlier this morning.
Howson told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun it was his decision to fire Arniel, and that he was given the go-ahead by management.
Spoke with Howson. Gave Arniel benefit of doubt in Oct since team was missing key players... but 2 wins in last 11 games was last straw...— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 9, 2012
With the large number of coaches that got the axe earlier this season, it comes as a surprise, frankly, that Howson waited this long to cut Arniel loose.
A few weeks ago, when Jacques Martin was let go in Montreal, we speculated that Arniel may be next. It wasn't exactly a huge gamble on our part, since Columbus had been falling short of expectations that were somewhat gaudy heading into this season, given their recent history.
The addition of Jeff Carter, a bonafide no. 1 center to play along captain Rick Nash, and power play specialist James Wisniewski offered the idea that the Jackets were ready to climb out of the NHL cellar.
Carter ran into a laundry list of injury problems that have limited him to only 30 games so far this season in which he's been less than stellar with just 10 goals and seven assists.
Miserable goaltending from Steve Mason, who the team had relied on to take over the starting job, has also been a contributing factor to the Blue Jackets lack of success, as they've spent all but 10 days in last place in the NHL standings. They are currently 11-25-5, 20 points behind eighth place in the Western Conference.
Goaltending isn't all to blame, though. A distinct lack of a strong defensive system plagued the Blue Jackets over Arniel's short tenure. In the year and a half he spent behind the Columbus bench, the team allowed six goals or more 14 times in 123 games.
Arniel drew praise after the Jackets stormed out to a 14-6-0 start in 2010-11, but they've tumbled since. Under Arniel, they are 31-54-18 since then according to Portzline, and they've recorded only eight regulation wins in their last 63 games. In that time, they've managed to only win eight games in regulation.