Scott Arniel WPG

Scott Arniel was named coach of the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

The 61-year-old replaces Rick Bowness, who retired May 6.

Arniel called taking the Jets coaching job a "full circle" moment. He was selected by the original Winnipeg Jets in the second round (No. 22) of the 1981 NHL Draft and played six of his 11 NHL seasons for the Jets. He finished his playing career and began his coaching career with Manitoba of the International Hockey League.

"A lot of firsts have happened here," Arniel said Monday. "I met my wife here, my kids were raised here, I got to play my first professional games here, I got to retire here at the end of my career as well with the Moose. It was also the start of my coaching career.

"People always ask me why am I still doing it. It's just the next thing to being a player. It's my dream. I've loved it. I've done it my whole life and hockey is a big part of me, and to be here today and be the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets is extremely special to me."

Arniel had been a Jets associate coach for two seasons. He also filled in as coach twice this season, when Bowness missed 11 games from Oct. 23-Nov. 22 after his wife, Judy, had a seizure, and four games from March 19-24 when Bowness was away because of a medical procedure.

Scott Arniel on becoming new Head Coach of Jets

Arniel previously coached the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2010-12, going 45-60-18 and missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his two seasons. He also has been an assistant/associate coach with the Buffalo Sabres (2002-06), New York Rangers (2013-18) and Washington Capitals (2018-22).

He admitted that after his time in Columbus ended he wasn't sure he'd get another chance to be a head coach.

"I don't think it's really all of a sudden becoming something different," Arniel said. "I'm going to be me. ... At the end of the day, it's having confidence in myself. Knowing that the biggest thing about those games that I got on the bench the last two years, is I got belief back in myself. I really did. And that was the single biggest thing that happened is that I've been sitting here for 12 years wondering, always wondering, am I ever going to get a second chance? And I'll tell you what, there's some great coaches in our league right now that got a second chance and a third chance, who are having great success and I like to think that I've learned a lot over these past few years that are going to help me move forward."

Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said three candidates were interviewed for the job, but the longest, and most impressive, was the one the Jets had with Arniel.

"We weren’t looking to reinvent this team, we weren’t looking to take it from one kind of coach to another," Cheveldayoff said. "We were looking to know that the foundation that we had in place was going to continue to be built upon.

"We sat almost for an entire day talking about just everything, about the evolution of the team, the evolution of himself. He showed a lot of vulnerability and opened up a lot about the Columbus experience and just where he’s grown, who’s been most influential. But the most important part of that process was he came in with a plan for almost every single player. It was clear right then and there that 'Arnie' was not only thoughtful about the X’s and O’s and about the organization, but he had a chance to be a guy that could exact some change in some of these payers because he’s been with them, he's grown, he’s built that relationship."

The Jets (52-24-6) finished second in the Central Division this season after missing the playoffs in 2023. Bowness was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the top coach in the NHL, finishing third in voting behind Rick Tocchet of the Vancouver Canucks and Andrew Brunette of the Nashville Predators.

Winnipeg lost to the Colorado Avalanche in five games in the Western Conference First Round, and Bowness stepped down a week after the series was over, ending a 40-year coaching career.

Two teams remain without a coach: the San Jose Sharks and the Seattle Kraken. Since the regular season ended, the Sabres hired Lindy Ruff on April 22, Travis Green joined the Ottawa Senators on May 7, the Toronto Maple Leafs named Craig Berube to the position May 17 and Sheldon Keefe was hired by the New Jersey Devils on May 23. independent correspondent Darrin Bauming contributed to this report.

Related Content