Will Firing Arniel Make a Difference?

The Columbus Blue Jackets fired head coach Scott Arniel this morning.  Through one and half seasons as the Blue Jackets head coach, Arniel posted an overall record of 45-60-18 but since his 14-6-0 start he posted a record of 31-54-18.  Additionally, the Blue Jackets have posted only eight regulation wins in their past 63 games.

Former Minnesota Wild head coach and current Blue Jackets assistant head coach Todd Richards will take over the coaching reigns for the remainder of the regular season.  Richards posted an overall record of 77-71-16 over two full seasons before being fired at the end of the 2010-2011 season.

Blue Jackets General Manager (GM) Scott Howson provided some comments on the Arniel firing, “We have two wins in our last 11 games,” 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.”

“Last night’s game wasn’t a very good performance,” Howson said. “But I really made my mind up on the weekend, and I didn’t want to do it on a game day.  Our play seemed to be regressing, so I just thought it was time to move the team in a new direction.”

Howson cited Arniel’s 2-8-1 record over his final 11 games behind the Blue Jackets bench as the final straw that led to his dismissal.

On Scott Howson’s Twitter page, he uttered the following, “We anticipate that we will be trading away some of our players,”

So it leads to the following question:  Will firing Scott Arniel make a difference?  Further, is firing Arniel enough to fix the malaise that is the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team?

Today’s firing marks the fourth coach in Scott Howson’s regime which spans over four and a half seasons: Ken Hitchcock, who led the Blue Jackets to their only playoff appearance and currently the St. Louis Blues head coach, guiding them to a record of 17-5-5 since assuming the reigns; Claude Noel, who served as interim head coach and who now is the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets; Scott Arniel and now Todd Richards.

Howson’s record as GM of the Blue Jackets is 152-162-55; however, if you remove Ken Hitchcock’s record during that period, his overall record as GM is 54-68-24 or an overall winning percentage of 45.1%.  Worse yet, when compared against Doug MacLean’s six-year record as the Blue Jackets’ GM – 41.2%, when they were an expansion team, Howson’s edge in winning percentage during years 7-11 of the organization is downright putrid, especially when Howson was credited for cleaning the oil spill that was the MacLean regime.

Even with Todd Richards assuming control behind the Blue Jackets’ bench, the problems are many: a cataclysmic failure in overall team performance – the Blue Jackets own the NHL’s worst overall record of 11-25-5 – particularly with the NHL’s fifth highest payroll at the beginning of the year; Steve Mason still mans the net for the Blue Jackets, he of the NHL’s 2nd worst Goals Against Average (GAA) of 3.46 and 2nd worst Save Percentage (Save%) of .882; no prospects for the Stanley Cup playoffs – SportsClubStats.com gives the Blue Jackets a 0.9% chance of making the Western Conference’s last playoff spot; a disgusted fan base that’s grown tired of the lack of direction of this organization, the lack of any urgency or passion by its players and management and the lack of accountability by its players and especially by its management.

For most Blue Jackets fans, this move was believed to be too little, too late.  They also feel that this step was not nearly enough, that it was akin to placing a Band-Aid on a shattered leg.

The level of distain amongst the fan base has risen to the level that only when major changes occur will they be satisfied and that includes the firing of Scott Howson and the resignation of Blue Jackets President Mike Priest.

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