The Washington Capitals will have a different look behind the bench next season if a report from The Athletic on Tuesday proves true.
Murat Ates reported that Capitals assistant coach Scott Arniel will likely join the Winnipeg Jets next season. “Source tells The Athletic that Scott Arniel is a virtual lock to join the #NHLJets next coaching staff — most likely as an Associate Coach,” Ates wrote on Twitter. Arniel’s hiring is not expected until a new Winnipeg Jets coach is named.
The 59-year-old Arniel was in charge of the Capitals’ 12th-ranked penalty kill (80.4 percent) that did not give up a power-play goal during its first-round series against the Florida Panthers (0-18).
Arniel was first hired by the Capitals to join Todd Reirden’s staff in 2018-19 after spending five years as an associate coach with the New York Rangers. Arniel remained with the Capitals after Reirden was fired in 2020 and replaced by Peter Laviolette.
“I thought Scott Arniel did a terrific job with the penalty kill last year, assisting with the forwards, working with the skill level of the individual players from a forward standpoint and I didn’t see a need to make a change,” Laviolette said then per NBC Sports Washington. “He’s been a head coach, he has a lot of experience. I spoke with coaches that he worked with before and they all had good things to say about him. I knew Scott a little bit from when I played and I am really looking forward to working with him.”
Arniel vastly improved the Capitals’ PK during his time in the district. While Arniel’s unit finished 24th in the league during his first year (2018-19, 78.9%), the group rebounded big time in the seasons that followed, posting sixth (2019-20, 82.6%), fifth (2020-21, 84.0%), and 12th place finishes (2021-22, 80.4%).
Arniel’s jump to the Jets comes after playing parts of six seasons in Winnipeg (1981-1986, 1990-91) as a forward. Ironically, his first game in the NHL came against the Washington Capitals on December 4, 1981, at Capital Center. Arniel returned to the Jets’ organization as the AHL head coach of the Manitoba Moose from 2006 to 2010, winning two division championships and one conference championship during his time there. He also led the team to the top record in the AHL during the 2008-09 season. Arniel and his family live in Winnipeg over the offseason and have ties to the current ownership with the Jets.
Arniel served as a head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets for parts of the two seasons, posting a 45-60-8 record before being replaced by Todd Richards midseason in 2011-12.
Arniel’s hiring comes before the Winnipeg Jets have decided on a new head coach. The team reportedly interviewed Barry Trotz on May 17. Trotz also has ties to Winnipeg. He was born there in 1962 and his hometown is Dauphin, Manitoba.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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