Mike Babcock is out as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The embattled Babcock resigned on Sunday afternoon, the National Hockey League club announced.
The departure of Babcock came just five days after former NHL player Paul Bissonnette, on his podcast Spittin’ Chiclets, said that Babcock had been asking Blue Jackets to see the photos on their personal phones.
Following that allegation — one that Babcock said in a statement was “a gross misrepresentation of those meetings and extremely offensive” — the NHL Players’ Association launched an investigation into Babcock’s actions. On Friday, the NHLPA met with the NHL, which reviewed the allegations as well, in New York to discuss their findings.
In a release on Sunday, the Jackets also announced that Pascal Vincent is their new coach, signing him to a two-year contract.
“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,” Blue Jackets 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 also was quoted in the statement.
“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.”
Though Jackets captain Boone Jenner and fellow veteran Johnny Gaudreau publicly had said they didn’t have a problem with Babcock’s methods, it has been reported that some of the younger Jackets players were uncomfortable with how Babcock was going about his business.
One would think the resignation marks the end of Babcock’s coaching career in the NHL.
Babcock, 60, was hired by Columbus on July 1, marking his return to the NHL after he was fired by the Leafs in November 2019.
After he was let go in Toronto, numerous stories were reported regarding Babcock’s shabby treatment of players, including in the Toronto Sun involving Mitch Marner, during his various tenures as an NHL coach.
Babcock won the Stanley Cup as coach of the Detroit Red Wings in 2008, his lone Cup title. He also coached Canada to gold at the Winter Olympics in 2010 and 2014.
In Toronto, Babcock was fired just 4-1/2 years after signing an eight-year contract. Despite getting the Leafs to the playoffs in 2017 after the club was last overall in the NHL in his first season behind the Toronto bench, Babcock’s group couldn’t advance past the first round in three consecutive playoffs.