Mike Babcock has resigned as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets after just two months on the job, following an investigation into allegations that he asked players to show him personal photos on their phones. The NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) conducted the investigation, which led to Babcock’s resignation on September 17, 2023.
Mike Babcock resigns as Head Coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets; club names Pascal Vincent Head Coach
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) September 17, 2023
The controversy began when former NHL player Paul Bissonnette reported on his podcast, Spittin’ Chiclets, that Babcock was asking players to show him photos and projecting them for others to see. According to Bissonnette, some of the younger Blue Jackets players were uncomfortable with the situation. The NHL and NHLPA met to discuss the next steps of the investigation.
Babcock has a controversial history, with former players like Johan Franzen accusing him of being verbally abusive during his time as a coach with different teams. Babcock’s last job in the NHL, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, also ended under controversial circumstances, with several players speaking out against their former head coach after he was fired.
In a statement, Babcock said, “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. 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.”
The Blue Jackets announced that associate coach Pascal Vincent would replace Babcock, signing a two-year contract through the 2024-25 season. The team and its players are now focused on moving forward and preparing for the upcoming NHL season.
The Mike Babcock saga has sparked a wider conversation about the treatment of players by coaches and authority figures in the sport of hockey. As the NHL and its teams continue to navigate these issues, it remains to be seen what long-term impact this situation will have on the league and its coaching practices.