Mike Babcock resigned as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday after word emerged earlier this week of him asking players to show him photos on their phones.
The team announced Babcock’s shocking departure in the aftermath of an investigation by the NHL Players’ Association into his conduct. Pascal Vincent has been named coach, signing a two-year contract through the 2024-25 season.
Former NHL player Paul Bissonnette reported on his podcast Tuesday that Babcock was asking players to show him photos and projecting them for others to see in an invasion of privacy. Babcock and captain Boone Jenner denied the report in a statement released by the team, saying it was just a way of the new coach getting to know players.
Still, the players union launched a review and updated the league Friday on its findings.
“This was a difficult decision on everyone’s part, but one we felt necessary to ensure our focus remains on the players and the team’s upcoming season,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire Blue Jackets organization, we want to thank Mike for his hard work and the professionalism he has shown in working together on a plan to step down.”
Babcock’s conduct was under the microscope given his history of polarizing, old school coaching techniques, many of which came to light after he was fired by Toronto in 2019. This was his first NHL job since.
“Upon reflection, it has become clear that continuing as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets was going to be too much of a distraction,” Babcock said. “While I’m disappointed to not have had the opportunity to continue the work we’ve begun, I know it’s in the best interest of the organization for me to step away at this time. I wish everyone in the organization well in the upcoming season.”
Babcock, the 2008 Stanley Cup-winning coach with Detroit, said upon taking the Columbus job in July that he evolved as a coach and learned how better to deal with players after being fired by Toronto.
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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press