Scott ARNIEL finally determined he was ready and the Columbus Blue Jackets agreed.
Arniel, named head coach of the Jackets by GM Scott Howson in Columbus on Tuesday, has been aiming towards this day for 11 years.
A former player with both the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose as well as an assistant coach and then head coach with the Moose, Arniel always spoke about taking an NHL position when it felt right.
"This is the right job because I always wanted to be aligned with the right general manager and the right organization that was headed in the right direction. Scott Howson is that guy. We've had a lot of talks and we believe in the same things," said Arniel, 47. "This team has potential now and in the future. You learn every year as a coach. Two years ago going to the Calder Cup and last year, going through 50 players and having a tough, tough year, but learning as I went along. You work hard and hope the right people notice."
The Columbus job was originally offered to Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher but when he declined, Howson called Arniel.
"My jaw dropped. There was silence on my end of the line for quite a while. I thought the call was going to go the other way. I thought (Howson) called to say 'thanks but we've hired someone else.' But then he said he'd like to offer me the job and it was one of the happiest moments of my hockey career," said Arniel. "This is a challenge and I love challenges. I've done my homework where it comes to this organization. I've talked to an awful lot of people in the NHL and the AHL and everybody had me pointing in this direction. There are other organizations in need of a coach but this is the one that really intrigued me. We're young, there's lots of skill, there's good experience and great goaltending. There are lots of good things to be excited about here."
In four seasons under Arniel, the Moose won over 40 games each year for a record of 181-106-16-17. Arniel becomes the third Moose coach in a row after Randy Carlyle and Alain Vigneault to graduate to an NHL post.
"It's been a whirlwind 48 hours and I am so excited to be here. There are only 30 head coaching jobs in the NHL and I feel very fortunate to be sitting here as the new head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets," said Arniel, who admitted to nervousness about his new job. "I got the call while I was at my office at the MTS Centre. I got in my car and drove to my wife's office and she was there with my son. I walked in and told them I need a new suit. They just looked at my funny and then I told them I had to go to a press conference in Columbus and then they got real excited. They're happy for me and on board. They've been able to enjoy this experience with me as a family and it's been great."
Arniel says leaving the Moose is the right move but not an easy one.
"Winnipeg over the years, as both a player and coach, has meant so much to me. Mark Chipman (co-owner) and (GM) Craig Heisinger gave me the opportunity to come back there and cut my teeth as a head coach and to learn what it takes to be a coach," said Arniel. "I had great experiences and I learned so much there."
Heisinger said Arniel came to the Moose green but left ready to take on the world's best.
"He came here hoping to hone his craft and get to the next level and he did that in a very short period of time. That's a credit to him," said Heisinger. "I think he'll do a real good job there. They have a young group and lots of talent and some of Scott's assets are his ability to teach and his attention to detail."