A New Era Begins
Tuesday was a very exciting day at Nationwide Arena, with the introduction of Scott Arniel as the new head coach. It was an exciting day for me because, with the exception of Claude Noel, Arniel is the coach I knew best of the finalists. During my time in Syracuse we never played Portland, so I never saw Kevin Dineen as a head coach. I knew him from the time he was a development coach here, but never got to watch how his team actually played. Guy Boucher came after I left, so I can't attest to his fangled system.
Scott Arniel is a guy I saw a good bit of, in fact some years too much of. What I mean is the Crunch had a great rivalry with the Manitoba Moose and Scott referenced a playoff series with Syracuse, during his press conference, saying it was the most physical series he's ever seen.
He's not lying.
That was when the Crunch had Zenon Konopka leading the charge and everyone had their hair shaved into a mohawk prior to the playoffs. In talking with Derek Dorsett and Marc Methot this week, they both remarked how hard that series was because the Moose never gave up. Every time you thought you had a game won, they came back again. That's a testament to Arniel and the way he kept his team working hard throughout each game. Dorsett also made an impression on his new coach during the series, for the way he was right in the middle of things. Arniel will more than likely lean on him to do just that with this team.
The Crunch won that playoff series 4-2, with five of the games going beyond regulation. Karl Goehring was the goaltender, for that Syracuse team and the next year he went to Manitoba to play for Arniel. With Steve Mason coming off a disappointing season, I asked Goehring how the new coach might help his star goaltender get back on track.
Here's what he told me: "There is accountability in the defensive zone. If the system is played correctly, most of the shots come from the outside, where you can see them. That alone makes the goalies' job much easier."
Karl also gave me examples of how Arniel took time to know each of his players individually, both on and off the ice. That carried a lot of weight with him and the other players.
Scott Arniel is relatively unknown around here, but that will change quickly. Having seen his work, I'm glad he got this job. He will work hard to produce a winner. The key, of course, is the players doing the same. As the old saying goes, a coach is only as good as the players he has. Arniel has some good players and I think he'll be able to get the most out of them. I can't wait to watch it unfold!
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac", "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.