Blue Jackets Babcock Hockey

Mike Babcock spent less than three months on the job as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets before his resignation on Sunday. Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File

Mike Babcock, the coach with a Stanley Cup championship and two Olympic gold medals on his resume, has lost his last two jobs in the NHL.

Last time, it was for losing too many games. This time, it was for his interactions with players that followed a disturbing pattern of past behavior.

Babcock resigned as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday after just two months on the job, less than a week after his requests for personal photos from players in a bonding effort drew criticism as too invasive.

The team announced Babcock’s shocking departure in the aftermath of an investigation by the NHL Players’ Association into his conduct. Pascal Vincent was named Babcock’s replacement and signed a two-year contract through the 2024-25 season.

Former NHL player Paul Bissonnette reported on his podcast Tuesday that Babcock was asking players to show him photos and projecting them for others to see in an invasion of privacy. Babcock and captain Boone Jenner denied the report, saying it was just a way of the new coach getting to know players.

Still, the players union launched a review and updated the league Friday on its findings.


“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,” 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’s conduct was under the microscope given his history of polarizing, old-school coaching techniques, many of which came to light after he was fired by Toronto in 2019. This was his first NHL job since.

“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.”

Babcock, the 2008 Stanley Cup-winning coach with Detroit, said upon taking the Columbus job in July that he evolved as a coach and learned how better to deal with players after being fired by Toronto.

After Babcock was fired by the Maple Leafs, a report surfaced that he asked a player to share his ranking of teammates from hardest- to least-hardest working and then shared that with the rest of the group. Other former players expressed their dissatisfaction with Babcock, who at one point was considered the best coach in hockey.

Instead, Babcock’s time in the NHL might be over, and with it comes questions about Kekalainen’s future in Columbus.

Babcock was the third coach Kekalainen has hired since taking over in February 2013. The Blue Jackets have missed the playoffs each of the past three seasons.

Vincent, 51, was one of the candidates for the job when Babcock got it. He was an assistant on former coach Brad Larsen’s staff the previous two seasons after four years as coach of the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.