A few days back, the New York Rangers made their entire coaching staff official by announcing Ulf Samuelsson, Scott Arniel and Danny Lacroix as their assistant coaches.
After Rangers new head coach Alain Vigneault was hired, almost immediately we knew that Samuelsson and Arniel were going to be two out of the three assistant coaches, because those two were the names formally announced, just not officially.
Lacroix was only a name heard recently, but that is mostly because he will not be seen on the Rangers benches and instead be up in the press box during the games. Vigneault even said Lacroix will be his “eye in the sky.”
So with Vigneault being the head coach, and with Lacroix being the eye in the sky, Arniel will be in charge of the forwards and will be the one trying to fix the Rangers dreadful powerplay, which the Blueshirts have sadly had over the past few seasons, and Samuelsson will be in charge of the defensive pairs and penalty killing, which makes total sense since Samuelsson was a defenseman during his playing career.
I like the Samuelsson hiring, not only because he was a defensemen in the NHL, but his hard-nosed attitude will hopefully give the Rangers defense an extra kick in the rear end and be more aggressive when they have to be. And while I really have no objection about Lacroix, I am very unsure about the Arniel hiring.
Arniel was horrible as a head coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2010-2012, and in his year and a half there had a bad powerplay. But those Blue Jackets teams had absolutely no talent outside of Rick Nash, who ironically happens to be on the Rangers now, so maybe everyone, and myself included, should cut Arniel some slack. Not only because he was the head coach for a horrible team back then, but was also the head coach and had many more responsibilities than just coaching the powerplay. Maybe with his focus solely 0n the forwards and the powerplay, plus the fact that the Rangers have more talent then was ever on those Blue Jacket teams he was the head coach of, that the Rangers powerplay will improve in the upcoming 2013-14 season.
However, Arniel’s relationships with former Blue Jackets players, who are now on the Rangers, concerns me alot, specifically Derick Brassard.
When Brassard was on the Blue Jackets and Arniel was the head coach, it has been said that both of them did not get along too well. It even got to the point where Arniel made Brassard a healthy scratch for a seven-out-of-10-game stretch, in which not only Brassard, but his agent also took some exception to Arniel’s decision and even released a statement bashing Arniel.
So, like I said before, while I have no problem with the Samuelsson and Lacroix hirings, I am still not sold on Arniel yet, who not only has to make amends with Brassard, but has arguably the hardest job on the team, which is fix the appalling Rangers’ powerplay.