Some might say that this move should have been made earlier.
Some might say that the Jackets' terrible season isn't the coach's fault, but rather the players are to blame.
At any rate, something had to give. This team was built to win now. Ownership approved a large hike in payroll, putting the Jackets near the salary cap. General Manager Scott Howson made a substantial trade in the summer, acquiring Jeff Carter, and dipped into free agency to acquire veterans James Wisniewski and Vinny Prospal. This was all to supplement the talent already here in Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger, Derick Brassard, Antoine Vermette...the list goes on.
The Jackets have been in last place in the NHL virtually all season.
The old saying goes, "you can't fire 23 players when things are tough, so you fire the coach". That applies here, but only to a point. In addition to costing Scott Arniel his first NHL head coaching job, the players should be on notice-the team will be cleaning-house, between now and the deadline.
One question that pops into my mind is whether you can classify this group of players as coach-killers. Without being too dramatic, it seems as though (as they did with former coach Ken Hitchcock) they quit early on in the season. We'll never know for sure if the players tuned him out, and if so, it's strange to think that a coach has lost his room after less than two full seasons.
Todd Richards will take over for the rest of the season on an interim basis. Given last night's injury to Jeff Carter, and with James Wisniewski out and Steve Mason looking like anything but an NHL goaltender, I highly doubt we'll see a Blues-esque turnaround.
What we can hope for is a visible change in culture, with every player giving his all every game, competing for ice time and contributing to the overall team concept. The players weren't doing these things on a consistent basis to this point and it cost Scott Arniel his job.
I wish him all the best in the future.