Scott Arniel was interested in the Columbus Blue Jackets even before they showed any interest in him. Arniel, introduced as the Blue Jackets new head coach yesterday, said of the four NHL teams who were looking for a head coach in recent weeks, he singled out the Blue Jackets.

"I had a big circle around Columbus," he said. "I thought it was the perfect fit for me at this time.

Arniel, 47, was the head coach of Manitoba of the American Hockey League for the past four seasons. He succeeds interim coach Claude Noel, who took over on Feb. 3 when Ken Hitchcock was fired. Arniel was offered the job on Monday, shortly after it was turned down by Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher, who, according to a report on, has accepted an offer to become the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.


* The Buffalo Sabres suspended contract talks with 2009 first-round draft pick Zack Kassian after the forward was charged with assault for allegedly punching a man at a bar in Canada. General manager Darcy Regier said the team is in no way "abandoning" the player selected 13th overall in the draft. Kassian is scheduled to appear in court next month.