Mike Babcock resigns as Blue Jackets coach amid investigation involving gamers’ pictures


“This was a troublesome determination on everybody’s half, however one we felt mandatory to make sure our focus stays on the gamers and the crew’s upcoming season,” common supervisor Jarmo Kekalainen mentioned in an announcement.

Former Columbus Blue Jackets coach Mike Babcock speaking to reporters.
Former Columbus Blue Jackets coach Mike Babcock chatting with reporters. Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch through AP, File

Mike Babcock, the coach with a Stanley Cup championship and two Olympic gold medals on his resume, has misplaced his final two jobs within the NHL.

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Final time, it was for shedding too many video games. This time, it was for his interactions with gamers that adopted a disturbing sample of previous habits.

Babcock resigned as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday after simply two months on the job, lower than per week after his requests for private pictures from gamers in a bonding effort drew criticism as too invasive.

The crew introduced Babcock’s abrupt departure within the aftermath of an investigation by the NHL Gamers’ Affiliation into his conduct. Pascal Vincent was named Babcock’s alternative and signed a two-year contract by way of the 2024-25 season.

“Our gamers should be handled with respect within the office,” NHLPA government director Marty Walsh mentioned. “Sadly, that was not the case in Columbus. The membership’s determination to maneuver ahead with a brand new head coach is the suitable plan of action.”

Former NHL participant Paul Bissonnette reported on his podcast Tuesday that Babcock was asking gamers to point out him pictures and projecting them for others to see in an invasion of privateness. Babcock and captain Boone Jenner denied the report, saying it was only a approach of the brand new coach attending to know gamers.

Nonetheless, the gamers union launched a evaluation and up to date the league Friday on its findings.

“This was a troublesome determination on everybody’s half, however one we felt mandatory to make sure our focus stays on the gamers and the crew’s upcoming season,” common supervisor Jarmo Kekalainen mentioned in an announcement. “On behalf of all the Blue Jackets group, we need to thank Mike for his onerous work and the professionalism he has proven in working collectively on a plan to step down.”

Babcock’s conduct was underneath the microscope given his historical past of polarizing, old-school teaching methods, a lot of which got here to gentle after he was fired by Toronto in 2019. This was his first NHL job since.

“Upon reflection, it has turn out to be clear that persevering with as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets was going to be an excessive amount of of a distraction,” Babcock mentioned. “Whereas I’m disillusioned to not have had the chance to proceed the work we’ve begun, I do know it’s in the perfect curiosity of the group for me to step away presently. I want everybody within the group properly within the upcoming season.”

Babcock, the 2008 Stanley Cup-winning coach with Detroit, mentioned upon taking the Columbus job in July that he developed as a coach and discovered how higher to take care of gamers following his firing by Toronto.

A report surfaced after the Maple Leafs fired Babcock that he had requested a participant to share his rating of teammates from hardest- to least-hardest working after which shared that with the remainder of the group. Different former gamers expressed their dissatisfaction with Babcock, who at one level was thought-about the perfect coach in hockey.

As a substitute, Babcock’s time within the NHL is perhaps over, and with it comes questions on Kekalainen’s future in Columbus.

Babcock was the third coach Kekalainen has employed since taking up in February 2013. The Blue Jackets have missed the playoffs every of the previous three seasons.

Vincent, who turns 52 later this month, was one of many candidates for the job when Babcock obtained it. He was an assistant on former coach Brad Larsen’s workers the earlier two seasons after 4 years as coach of the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose.

Kekalainen referred to as Vincent an impressive coach who “is aware of our gamers and group and is revered by everybody right here.”

“He was a powerful candidate for our head teaching place a number of months in the past and is in the perfect place to assist us navigate this modification as we start camp and lead our crew transferring ahead,” Kekalainen mentioned.

Vincent mentioned it was a troublesome day however that he was trying ahead to the chance.

“We have now an awesome group of men which were working very onerous to arrange for the season,” he mentioned. “My focus will likely be to work with our workers to assist them get higher day by day and be prepared for what we imagine will likely be an thrilling season.”