Scott Arniel, who has left his imprint on the Manitoba hockey scene as a player, captain, assistant coach and head coach, is leaving Winnipeg again, this time to become head coach of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.
The 47-year-old Arniel, who has coached the Manitoba Moose for the past four seasons, will be named today at a press conference in the Ohio capital as the team's newest head coach.
"No comment, will call you (Tuesday) for sure," was all Arniel would offer in the form of a text message. The Moose gave no comment as well when news began to break Monday that Arniel had been offered the job.
The Kingston, Ont., native first came to Winnipeg as a draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets and after joining the team in 1981 has made the city his home on and off -- but mostly on -- for the last 30 years.
Arniel was an original Moose and a captain of the club before moving behind the bench as an assistant under Randy Carlyle. The two-time Memorial Cup champion joined Lindy Ruff's staff in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres before returning to Winnipeg as the head man with the Moose.
During four seasons leading the AHL's Moose, Arniel compiled a 141-72-8-18 mark while taking the team to the Calder Cup final in the spring of 2009 and also being named the league's coach of the year.
The Blue Jackets fired Ken Hitchcock in mid-season and Claude Noel stepped in on an interim basis. Arniel, along with Noel, Kevin Dineen and Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher were all interviewed and Boucher was offered the job first. He declined and Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson turned to Arniel.
The Blue Jackets were not offering official comment on Monday night but Noel was reached by the Free Press when cleaning out the head coach's office at Nationwide Arena.
"I hear there's a press conference here (Tuesday)," Noel said with a laugh. "I have a lot of respect for Scottie Arniel and I really like him. He deserves to walk into an office that's his and not one with all my stuff."
Noel will shoot to the top of any Moose coaching candidates list put together by general manager Craig Heisinger.
Noel has worked at many levels and won a Calder Cup coaching the Milwaukee Admirals in 2004.
"Winnipeg is a job I would have interest in for many reasons," said Noel. "It's a great market and I have respect for both the Moose and Vancouver Canucks organizations. I have great respect for Craig Heisinger. When I was in Milwaukee I came across him all the time. I'd be looking in the ECHL for depth guys and we'd always be after the same players. I'm going to take some time and look around and see what's available, but one thing is for sure, I won't be afraid to go back to coach in the American Hockey League."
Moose assistant coach Keith McCambridge will also be a candidate after he stepped in and impressed both Moose and Canucks brass with his work ethic and hockey intellect.
The Moose head coach is a Canucks employee and Vancouver has a major say in any hiring, but Heisinger will also play a key role in this choice.
NHL teams: 3 (Winnipeg, Buffalo, Boston)
IHL teams: 4 (San Diego, Utah, Houston, Manitoba)
NHL games: 730
NHL goals: 149
Coaching jobs: 4 (player-assistant with Houston, assistant with Manitoba and Buffalo, head coach in Manitoba)
Head coaching wins: 181
Major awards: 5 (two Memorial Cups as a junior in Cornwall, gold medal with Canada at world junior championship, Turner Cup with Utah Grizzlies and coach of the year with the Moose.