From Player to Coach With Scott Arniel
This week Neil Bristow sits down with former NHL player and Manitoba Moose Head Coach Scott Arniel.
Neil Bristow – You are now in your third season as Head Coach of the Manitoba Moose. You spent 4 seasons as an assistant coach of the Buffalo Sabres. Do you see yourself going after vacant NHL coaching positions in the near future or would you like some more time in the AHL?
Scott Arniel – I still think I have lots to learn and experience as a Head Coach and I’m in no rush to get back. In saying that I will certainly look at any and all opportunities that are out there. I think it is very important that you align yourself with a G.M. that you have a history with and someone that has a lot of the same beliefs on the type of team and style of play that you want to play. Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff were a great example of that in Buffalo.
Neil Bristow – What are some of your greatest memories from your time as assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres?
Scott Arniel – The biggest highlight for me was coming out of the lock-out year and being ahead of the curve compared to a lot of teams in the N.H.L. We as an organization prepared for the salary cap that we thought was coming and also all the new rule changes that were going to be in effect. We built our team into a high tempo, skating team with some good veterans plus a good mix of youth. It’s great to watch them play today and still see a competitive, youthful, exciting team. Also, the opportunity to coach some great players that helped me to improve on my Coaching abilities.
Neil Bristow – Being from Winnipeg myself, I was quite surprised when Winnipeg built the MTS Centre at such a small seating capacity even under NHL seating capacity standards. Do you feel the city could support a NHL franchise? Do you think Winnipeg will see NHL Hockey again?
Scott Arniel- Actually I think the MTS Center does fit the size standards for venues in the NHL, and yes if given another opportunity like Minnesota and Colorado I think the fans and the corporate community would do everything they could to make it work here. In saying all that I don’t think it could work right now under the current salary cap, I feel that number would have to drastically be reduced for it to be feasible, but yes one day I do see the NHL back in Winnipeg.
Neil Bristow- What have been your highlights of being a head coach for the Manitoba Moose and what have been the low lights of the position?
Scott Arniel – Every day coming to work and the challenges that are brought forth from each day makes doing this job a highlight in itself. Winning games and seeing players improve on a daily basis is very gratifying, but I get big thrill when watching players get called up to the NHL and have success and see them fulfill there dreams. Certainly losing in the play-offs is a huge disappointment, but it’s what drives you to improve as a coach to be better the following year.
Neil Bristow – You have had the opportunity to coach some world class players in your time in the NHL and the AHL. Who do you say is the most talented player you have had the chance to coach and why?
Scott Arniel – Chris Drury, I’m not sure if he was the most talented of all the players I’ve coached but he was the most determined and driven player that I’ve had the pleasure of being around. His leadership qualities are second to none and a large reason why the teams he’s been associated with have had great success.
Scott Arniel – I’m sure like a lot of players it’s playing that 1st. NHL game, of finally having all the sacrifice and hard work pay-off and to have the opportunity to play with great players and friends along the way.
Neil Bristow – Out of all the players on your current roster on the Moose, who do you see making the biggest impact in the near future with the parent club the Vancouver Canucks?
And what should fans expect from this player?
Scott Arniel – It’s tough to pick one, but to have Edler, Hansen, Brown, Raymond, Schneider and Jaffray all play roles with the Canucks and help them have success is great to see.
Neil Bristow -With every job there is always mistakes on the job when you go into something new. Becoming the Head Coach of the Manitoba Moose do you have any stories you can share with our readers of any learning mistakes you made as you adjusted to the role of Head Coach of an AHL Franchise?
Scott Arniel- The first couple of months on the job with the Moose was a real eye opener as a coach. You come into the job thinking you have all the right tactics and strategy to instantly have success, but I soon realized certain things wouldn’t work with that team or I didn’t have the type of team needed to play the way I envisioned. I learned very quickly that I had to make adjustments and figure out what worked best with group of players that I had at that particular time.
Neil Bristow – The Dallas Stars have a partial affiliation with the Manitoba Moose. What are your thoughts on Sean Avery ever possibly playing for your club? How would you as a head coach handle a player like Sean Avery in the dressing room if it was ever to happen?
Scott Arniel – I don’t see Sean Avery ever playing for the Moose. He is a good NHL player that has a problem that he is going to have to rectify and, until he does, will have a hard time finding a team to play for. In saying that I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Sean in the NHL. As a coach you can never allow one individual to become larger than the group, and if the individual doesn’t buy into the team concept then he loses his right to be on the team. Good teams make good people, good people make good teams.
Neil Bristow – You played on the Gold medal winning Canadian Junior Hockey team in 1982.
What are some of your best memories from that tournament that you can share?
Scott Arniel – It was the first year that Hockey Canada put in the National Program bringing players in from all over Canada, so it was special to part of something new. Winning the first gold medal ever for Canada was a tremendous experience but my fondest memory was singing the National Anthem after we won because some-one had forgotten to have it available. It is great to see that tradition continue today when ever Canada wins.
Neil Bristow – Every kid grows up thinking of scoring a goal in the NHL. Can you tell us about scoring your first NHL goal and how you did it and against whom?
Scott Arniel – My 1st. goal was against the Detroit Red Wings, a Dave Christian shot that I deflected by Eddie Mio.
Neil Bristow – Goal or No Goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final?
Scott Arniel – “No Goal” foot in the crease.
(Re: Brett Hull)
NHL Digest would like to say thanks to Scott and wish him and the Manitoba Moose nothing but success this season and beyond.
If you are in or around Winnipeg, we encourage you to take in a Moose game at the new MTS Centre.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to reach Neil at theneilshow (at) shaw (dot) ca
I encourage feedback on interviews in the comments section as well.