GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers center Derick Brassard and assistant coach Scott Arniel have a rocky and controversial past, but they both insist any animosity that may have been lingering from their time together in Columbus was buried in early July, when Arniel was hired and Brassard called to talk to him.
“It's in the past and I'm looking in front of me," Brassard said. "I talked to Arnie when he got hired. I called him. No hard feelings."
Brassard and Arniel got embroiled in controversy early in the 2011-12 season when Arniel was the coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Brassard was their struggling center. Arniel made Brassard a healthy scratch seven times in 10 games from mid-November to early December both because Brassard was struggling and the Blue Jackets decided to test out their center depth.
Brassard didn't stir the pot, but his agent, Allan Walsh, had no problems taking aim at Arniel and calling him out publicly in a strongly worded statement published in the Columbus Dispatch.
Brassard wound up missing one more game after Walsh released his statement. Arniel was fired five and a half weeks later.
That summer Arniel was hired to coach the Chicago Wolves, at the time the American Hockey League affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. He was able to work with Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, and when Vigneault got the job in New York he turned to Arniel and hired him as an assistant coach.
"I knew about that situation where Derick's agent said things that might not have been appropriate, but I knew in talking to Arnie, between the player and coach at that time that wasn't the truth," Vigneault said. "At the end of the day I hired Arnie because he's a great person, he's a great hockey guy, and if you look at his track record with young players in Manitoba and what he did with that [AHL] organization, I was the beneficiary of that. I had those young players come to Vancouver. He's got a great feel and a great touch with young players, and he's a big asset to my coaching staff and this organization."
"I said to him he could be a great fit for us and I'm just looking forward to work with him," Brassard said.
"We can't look in the past," he later said. "We're just looking at what is coming up for us. We're on the same page and we just want to help the Rangers be a better team."
Arniel echoed that sentiment.
"As a coach, certainly as a head coach in Columbus, you're always going to have situations, whether it's different opinions, ice time issues, who you play with, those things happen," Arniel said. "There's nothing personal. Derick and I, we still work together. That happens in this game, but we've turned the page, we've both moved on and hopefully for better days ahead."
Brassard's better days started last season after he was traded from Columbus to New York on April 3. He had 11 points in 13 regular season games with the Rangers and then a team-high 12 points in 12 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He's looking for more of the same this coming season.
“I just want to bring the same game, just having fun," Brassard said. "Last year, I had success because I was not thinking too much on the ice, I was just playing. It's not going to be any different. I prepared myself really well this summer on and off the ice, so I don't see myself not achieving my goals."
Despite their past, he's ready to turn to Arniel for some help.
"Like it says on our shirts, clean slate," Brassard said. "Everything is good with us."
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