What a great way to kick off the school year!
We met in the media room down the hall from the locker room, as the coaches offices are completely torn up to be remade to Arniel’s liking. He may never have coached before in the NHL, but there is no doubt he has a vision for how to structure this team and his environment. Our topics ranged all over the place, from how to get the Jackets to the playoffs to what he thinks of the arena to how he feels tackling his first NHL head coaching position. He was candid, cordial and informative–all wonderful traits in an interview subject.
Interviews are like tides in how they ebb and flow, and this was no different. Arniel became most animated talking about his kids (his 20-year-old son Brendan will be playing hockey for the Buckeyes this year and majoring in science) and how much fun they have had thus far in Columbus (Huntingdon Park and Easton warranted special mentions). I thought it was great when he talked of meeting Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel and how much he learned watching him speak and interact with the media and public. He got a little guarded though (and really took exception to) a quote from the Winnipeg Jets Legends site that he had “faltered miserably” when he came up from Juniors to the Winnipeg Jets. I admired how Arniel went step-by-step through that season, proving me wrong through fact and interpretation, not hostility.
He also admitted that after getting the job on June 8, he went through a five day honeymoon period before sheer panic set in at the mountainous task before him.
I look forward to talking with Scott Howson and Mike Priest to get insights into their selection, and trip to a practice next month to see Arniel in action and talk to some players should be illuminating. Curious how he’s going to turn the Jackets around, what he thinks of Rick Nash, why he chose Columbus for his NHL debut and what he thinks of the city that many hockey fans outside the Midwest don’t even realize has a hockey team? Hope you’ll read the Monthly article in December to find out.
For now just know that Scott Arniel is awfully glad to be in Columbus.