Blue Jackets coach Mike Babcock resigned from the team following reports about privacy concerns with the team after he was hired on July 1.
“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, via NHL. “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 allegations came to light last Tuesday when former NHL player Paul Bissonnette stated on the Spittin' Chiclets podcast that Babcock asked the Blue Jackets players, specifically captain Boone Jenner, to show him their phones and camera rolls, followed by him showcasing the contents on a wall.
However, Jenner released a statement following the podcast saying that it was a misunderstanding. Babcock asked him about different things happening in his life and then asked to see photos of family, etc., in order to know him better. Babcock later stated he did this with players and “there was absolutely nothing more to it than” getting to know them.
“I thought it was a great first meeting and a good way for us to start to build a relationship,” Jenner said in the statement. “To have this blown out of proportion is truly disappointing.”
As various players noted having similar experiences with Babcock on the team, and even former players for the coach on the Toronto Maple Leafs, the NHLPA opened an investigation to see if Babcock violated the players’ privacies.
The NHLPA found that many players felt uncomfortable speaking with Babcock, especially young players.
“Our players deserve to be treated with respect in the workplace,” NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh said, via NHL. “Unfortunately, that was not the case in Columbus. The club’s decision to move forward with a new head coach is the appropriate course of action.”
The 60-year-old coach began his NHL coaching career in 2002 when he worked with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. His longest tenure came with the Detroit Red Wings after that. He last coached in the NHL in 2019 before he was fired from the Maple Leafs.
He resigned before even coaching a game for the Blue Jackets as their season opener is set for Oct. 12.
Associate coach Pascal Vincent was named Babcock’s replacement following his resignation.