Scott Arniel Deal Close, Not Final

Thomas Drance
June 22 2012 05:40PM

Despite reports from reputable sources from Ken Wiebe to Aaron Portzline, former Blue Jackets and Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel has not yet finalized a deal with the Canucks - according to Vancouver's front-office (by way of Iain Macintyre).

The delay is vaguely reminiscent of last summer, when MacTavish's hiring was "confirmed" by Nick Kypreos, and then didn't occur for weeks. So while it's not final, presumably a deal remains close, and certainly Vancouver's head office has a high opinion of Arniel's abilities behind the bench.

Click past the jump for more.

One factor that is likely working in Arniel's favour is his familiarity with the Canucks organization, and the team's preferred tactics. Though Arniel's involvement with the Moose predates the Gillis era, during his years as bench boss in Manitoba, Arniel installed a very similar system to the one Alain Vigneault used in Vancouver. And when Arniel finally got a shot as an NHL bench boss, his tactics closely mimicked Vigneault's in Vancouver - right down the zone-start deployment.

Considering the way Craig MacTavish, who was the head coach of Vancouver's affiliate this past season, deviated from the types of strategies used in Vancouver - acquiring a steady hand to coach for the Wolves, who is well accustomed to the way the Canucks want their farm team to play is presumably attractive.

Beyond the familiarity - is the high opinion the team has for Arniel justified? Superficially it looks like he flopped in a big way when he was behind the bench on Columbus, so I figured I'd take a quick look at the data. The following table includes Fenwick % (the metric we believe most closely corresponds with Alain Vigneault's scoring chance tracking) for the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to, during and after Arniel's tenure there. We also included the club's goal differential and their PDO. 

  Fenwick % GD PDO
Blue Jackets 09/10 44.4% -43 100.9
Blue Jackets 10/11 50.9% -43 98.8
Blue Jacets With Arniel 11/12 49.6% -33 97.9
Blue Jackets Without Arniel 11/12 45.8% -27 99.7

While the Blue Jackets were unrelentingly awful under Scott Arniel (-76 goal differential...) that should be qualified by the fact that their underlying numbers were solid, and their luck was terrible. Results aside, it's a fact that Columbus were a way worse team before Arniel arrived, improved by the underlying numbers during his tenure and then once he was fired, got worse yet again. That data indicates to me that Arniel shouldn't necessarily be proportioned the lions share of the blame for the failings of the Blue Jackets under his watch. Looks to me like he'd be a good fit in Chicago.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 John Andress
June 22 2012, 10:55PM
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I was under the impression that the difference between McTavish's coaching of the Wolves last season and Arniel's handling of the Moose the season before was not so much philosophical differences between the two coaches and Vancouver management as it was a commitment on the part of the Wolve's organization to provide their fans with a highly competitive, winning product on the ice which led them to prefer AHL veterans who knew the way to win at that level overdeveloping players. I came away from the season with the impression that whilst both organizations are first class, perhaps the different goals doomed the relationship to failure in the long run. Is there anything in this opinion?

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