VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks finally settled on a head coach for the big club this week and now they'll need to find one for their new American Hockey league farm team, the Utica Comets.
Scott Arniel, who was under contract for two more seasons, said Thursday he won't be heading to Utica and will instead sign with an NHL club as an assistant coach.
Arniel is in the running to join the staff of new Canuck head coach John Tortorella. Other possibilities are the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars where Arniel has ties to the new bench bosses there, Alain Vigneault and Lindy Ruff. There is believed to be a fourth team in the running as well.
“I'm not going to go to Utica,” Arniel said. “I talked to Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman and Lorne Henning and told them I am going to pursue an assistant job in the National Hockey League. I still want to be a head coach again in the NHL and I think this is the way to go.”
Arniel, 50, has had one stint as an NHL head coach in Columbus but lasted only one and a half seasons with the Blue Jackets before receiving the boot. Prior to Columbus, he coached the Canucks' AHL affiliate in Winnipeg, the Manitoba Moose, for four seasons. He was rehired by the Canucks to coach the Chicago Wolves in 2012-13.
“Last year I kind of knew I wanted to get back into coaching and it was a good fit to take the Chicago job, even though I had some opportunities to be an assistant in the NHL,” Arniel explained. “I am going to go to the draft this weekend to gather more information about the teams and players and to find out about roles. I think I will have to make a decision fairly shortly.”
Earlier this week, Canuck GM Gillis confirmed he has agreed to let other organizations talk to Arniel about their assistant positions.
“We're extremely hopeful to keep Scott but when teams ask for permission, you're pretty obligated to guys who have worked for you, and are loyal to you, to allow them to speak to other teams,” Gillis said.
Arniel played two seasons in Buffalo while Tortorella was an assistant coach there. Arniel also served as an assistant coach in Buffalo for three seasons under Ruff and, of course, worked closely with Vigneault while the latter was Canuck head coach and he was nurturing the farmhands in Manitoba and Chicago.
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