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Struggling Blue Jackets fire head coach

(Reuters) - The last-place Columbus Blue Jackets fired head coach Scott Arniel on Monday and said assistant Todd Richards will take over on an interim basis for the remainder of the National Hockey League (NHL) season.

The decision to fire the second-year coach comes a day after Columbus fell to the Anaheim Ducks in a matchup of the NHL's two worst teams, leaving the Blue Jackets 20 points out of a playoff spot.

Arniel took over as head coach in Columbus in 2010 and went 45-60-18 in 123 games, including an 11-25-5 mark this season for a league-low 27 points.

Richards, 45, who posted a 77-71-16 record as the head coach of the Minnesota Wild from 2009-11 before joining Columbus, will make his debut on Tuesday when the club visits the Chicago Blackhawks.

Arniel represents the seventh coaching change of the 2011-12 NHL as St. Louis, Washington, Carolina, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Montreal all made changes.

(Reporting By Gene Cherry in Salvo North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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