GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The "clean slate" mantra implemented by new Rangers coach Alain Vigneault appears to extend beyond the ice.
The rift between center Derick Brassard and former coach Scott Arniel, dating back to their days with the Columbus Blue Jackets, has been extinguished now that the two have re-joined forces in New York.
What appeared to be a rocky relationship between the two became public in 2011 when Brassard’s agent, Allan Walsh, issued an incendiary statement about Arniel’s use of Brassard. Walsh described the situation as “untenable.”
But no ill will remains. In fact, Brassard said he immediately called Arniel when he was hired as an associate coach with the Rangers and assured him there is no longer an issue from their time together in Columbus.
“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 -- [and said] 'no hard feelings.' I think Arnie can be a great addition to our forwards, to our power play."
The 25-year-old Brassard, who averaged a point per game in the playoffs for the Rangers last season, mentioned new head coach Alain Vigneault’s salient message in dealing with the situation. "Like the coach said on our shirts, ‘Clean Slate,’" Brassard said. "Everything’s good between us."
Arniel praised Brassard’s character for reaching out, and echoed his sentiments. “You see the class of Derick. The day I got hired, he phoned me. We had a great conversation. I told him how proud I was to watch him play here last year and how great he played,” Arniel said. “We’ve turned the page and both have moved, hopefully for better days ahead.”
Arniel indicated that the situation was exacerbated by Walsh’s statement. In defending his client, Walsh accused Arniel of “burying players and using them as scapegoats for his own lack of success on the ice.”
Asked if he and Brassard ever really had an issue, Arniel replied: “No, it was created by that [statement]. Derick and I talked about it then and cleared the air.”
Arniel said he didn’t want to talk about the situation then, and doesn’t want to now, either. Both he and Brassard would prefer to move forward. That starts with their time together in New York, where Arniel looks forward to witnessing Brassard’s continued improvement.
The young pivot, who was traded to the Rangers in April, notched five goals and 11 points in 13 regular-season games after joining the team, and had 12 points in the team’s 12 playoff contests.
Arniel said it has been great to see Brassard's game evolve since Columbus, where he shouldered lofty expectations and battled injuries. “He’s got great vision. He’s a great passer,” Arniel said. “It seems now you can just see his confidence with the puck ... he’s always had the talent.”
Vigneault also seems unconcerned about any lingering issues between Brassard and Arniel.
“I knew about that situation where Derick’s agent said things that might not have been appropriate,” Vigneault said. “I knew, in talking to Arnie, that between the player and the coach at the time that wasn’t the truth.”