The Columbus Blue Jackets made major news as training camp week is about to start. They have made a coaching change.
On Sunday afternoon, the Blue Jackets announced that “after much discussion and careful consideration”, the team and Mike Babcock together agreed to begin the process of stepping down effective immediately. In addition, the team announced the hiring of Pascal Vincent as Babcock’s full-time replacement. It is a two-year deal for Vincent with the Blue Jackets.
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Details of Resignation
Once it was announced that the NHLPA was in Columbus to investigate Babcock’s handing of looking at photos on player’s phones, things escalated when it came out that some younger Blue Jackets’ players were not comfortable with what happened. At first, the Blue Jackets, the NHL and NHLPA were satisfied when both Johnny Gaudreau and Boone Jenner said there was nothing wrong with what occurred.
Then according to a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, one of the more serious concerns was a meeting that occurred away from the team facilities that included “several minutes” of looking through a phone. This was more than what was understood to have occurred.
Until the news was made public Sunday, no one would comment on the status of the investigation or what might happen. Now the Blue Jackets open camp in the midst of this situation.
“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,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “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.”
“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.”
Paul Bissonnette was first to report the situation with the privacy concerns around the photos.
The Blue Jackets elected to hire associate coach Vincent. In the end, it was an easy decision to make since he was there and was already familiar with the players. He was also a candidate for the job before Babcock was hired.
“Pascal Vincent is an outstanding coach,” Kekalainen said. “He knows our players and organization and is respected by everyone here. He was a strong candidate for our head coaching position several months ago and is in the best position to help us navigate this change as we begin camp and lead our team moving forward.”
As of yet, there is no word on who might join the bench as an assistant now that Vincent is the head coach. Vincent, Kekalainen and John Davidson are all scheduled to speak on Monday afternoon at their annual media luncheon in advance of training camp. They are scheduled to speak at 12:30 P.M. eastern.
Related: NHL Rumors: Blue Jackets 9-13-2023
Several questions still linger around the situation including the status of the overall NHLPA investigation and if there could be other fallout from this resignation. Stay tuned here as we’ll continue to update as new information comes forth.