Guy Boucher's rejection of the Columbus Blue Jackets to remain coach of the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens affiliate) is being framed as a slap in the face to the NHL franchise. Which is a little baffling, actually.
He was a first-year AHL coach (and coach of the year) who would have been a 38-year-old NHL head coach, the youngest in the League. Maybe he didn't feel his system fit the team. Maybe the Jackets didn't give him the autonomy or financials he desired -- please recall Pete DeBoer's dance with the Ottawa Senators. Or maybe he just felt he was too green for the Bigs.
Bottom line is that Boucher walked away for Boucher's reasons, despite being Columbus's top choice. If he was part of a parade of candidates rejecting the Blue Jackets' gig, maybe then it reflects poorly on the franchise.
As it stands, it was one offer out, one offer rejected; which means the Blue Jackets job is as undesirable as the role of Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy because the producers offered it to Sean Connery before Ian McKellen.
Which is to say that Scott Arniel is Columbus's Magneto.
Arniel was offered and accepted the Blue Jackets' coaching job after Boucher rejected it according to the Columbus Dispatch. He's coming off four successful seasons with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL (Vancouver Canucks affiliate).
And hey: If the Winnipeg Jets aren't coming back, at least Scott Arniel's back in the NHL, right?
The Jackets will introduce him on Tuesday, when he'll inevitably be asked about being second choice and give some stock answer about just being happy to have the opportunity.
So we'll leave it to Jackets bloggers like Dark Blue Jacket to tear down one former candidate while praising the new coach:
Boucher took a whole weekend-plus to decide on an offer after 2 interviews. That does not scream "Undivided interest" to me and - if you will permit me to speculate - suggests that Boucher played Howson's offer against someone (His current employer, the Montreal Canadiens? The other NHL teams that are looking for a coach?). Or perhaps he was really torn about leaving the AHL for the NHL after only one year. Remember, Boucher has turned down coaching offers earlier in his career. So I can't say as I'm entirely surprised that this happened. At the same time, it was a risk on Howson's part, one that he apparently felt was worth taking.
Rick Gethin of The Hockey Writers had the definitive piece on Arniel as a Columbus candidate earlier this month, and it's recommended again:
He has the drive and the vision to take the next step into the NHL coaching ranks. His style and system would seem to fit nicely with the young team that resides in Columbus. Kevin Dineen has a bit of a temper, going so far as to get suspended by the AHL. To have that fire is not altogether a bad thing, but it needs to be tempered when coaching at this level.
The hiring of Arniel means that Kevin Dineen is still on the market, with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a potential destination. Unless, of course, he's offered the job, decides to stay in Portland for some reason and then someone claims that nobody wants to work for Steve Yzerman.