In the turmoil, Mike Babcock resigned from his position as head coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. The organization announced that its assistant Pascal Vincent is taking the reins of the team.
And there is no question of offering him the interim position: the Laval resident has already signed a two-year contract with Columbus.
It was only the beginning of the Blue Jackets preseason when controversy hit Mike Babcock again. The coach was accused of demanding to look through photos on his players’ phones. These allegations were made in the podcast Spittin’ Chicletshosted by ex-player Paul Bissonnette, last Tuesday.
Babcock, who completely rejected these accusations, was beginning his first season with the Blue Jackets.
“It was a difficult decision for everyone,” general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen said in a press release. The leader of the Ohio team confirms with these words that Babcock’s resignation was done in concert with the organization.
We believe this decision was necessary to ensure that our players and our season remain at the center of our focus.
Jarmo Kekäläinen, general manager of the Blue Jackets
“On behalf of the entire organization, we want to thank Mike for the professionalism he demonstrated while we established a plan for him to step down,” added the CEO.
Babcock explains that his presence at the head of the Blue Jackets was going to become too much of a distraction.
“Although I am disappointed not to be able to continue the work started, I believe that my departure is the best solution for the organization. »
Six days later he left
In his popular podcast, quoting an NHL player without naming him, Bissonnette says that Babcock summoned Boone Jenner, team captain, to his office. The pilot then allegedly asked the attacker to connect to a television in order to review the photos on his device, in order “to find out what type of person” the 30-year-old veteran is.
These comments, which were confirmed by ex-defender Mike Commodore, a longtime critic of Babcock, ignited social networks last week. Various media reported that the organization and the Players Association had looked into the matter to verify the validity of the accusations.
“Our players deserve to be treated with respect in their workplace,” said Players’ Association Executive Director Marty Walsh. This was not the case in Columbus, unfortunately. The club’s decision to move forward with a new head coach is appropriate. »
That Tuesday afternoon, the Blue Jackets released a statement in which Babcock and Jenner flatly denied this description of their first meeting. They said their interactions were cordial and that they shared photos of their respective families. “There is absolutely nothing more,” maintained Babcock, who qualified the comments reported by Spittin’ Chiclets of “gross (and) extremely offensive misrepresentation”.
The 60-year-old coach, who won the Stanley Cup in 2008 with the Detroit Red Wings, has a heavy past. Former players who worked with him in Detroit, where he spent a decade, described him as an intimidator. In Toronto, where he spent just under five seasons, tactics deemed inappropriate with rookie players were brought to light. Quickly, after the Leafs showed him the door in November 2019, he was classified in the untouchable category.
He stayed away from the NHL for three and a half years. Then, on 1er Last July, when his expensive contract with the Maple Leafs expired, the Blue Jackets announced his hiring with great fanfare. Babcock then claimed to have improved his communicator skills.
A first opportunity for Vincent
Pascal Vincent has been hanging around the NHL for a long time. While he says he can’t wait to get to work and appreciates the “confidence” his employer offers him, he recognizes that it is a “difficult day.”
“We have a good group of guys who have worked very hard to prepare for this season,” he explained in the press release. My goal will be to work with our staff to ensure that our players improve every day, and are ready for what promises to be an exciting season. »
The Quebecer was employed by the Winnipeg Jets organization for 10 years before joining the Jackets in 2021. He served as an assistant with the Jets from 2011 to 2016, then as coach. leader of the Manitoba Moose from 2016 to 2021. He was Brad Larsen’s assistant in Columbus for the last two years.
Before entering the pros, Vincent made his mark in the QMJHL, with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, from 2000 to 2008, then with the Montreal Junior, from 2008 to 2011.
With Simon-Olivier Lorange, The Press