Columbus Jackets’ Babcock Resigns Amid Probe, Vincent Assumes Coach Role

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Mike Babcock made an unexpected exit from his post as Columbus Blue Jackets coach last Sunday, a position held barely for two months. His sudden resignation followed a controversial incident in which he reportedly requested players to share photos from their phones. This matter was under swift investigation by the NHL Players’ Association, prompting concern about his conduct. The announcement of Babcock’s departure paved the way for associate coach Pascal Vincent to ascend to the coveted role. Now signed through the 2024-25 season, Vincent steps in as Babcock’s successor.

Paul Bissonnette, a former NHL player himself, brought attention to the unsettling incident on the “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast. An anonymous player mentioned a peculiar practice of the veteran coach streaming phone photos on his television during one-on-one sessions. The 60-year-old Babcock, along with Columbus captain Boone Jenner, sternly denied these allegations as both obnoxious and inaccurate.

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The NHLPA disclosed that its top leadership was in Columbus, Ohio, actively probing the allegations. Investigators Marty Walsh and Ron Hainsey interacted directly with Blue Jackets players as part of this internal probe, their findings shared with the league the following Friday.

The Blue Jackets management and Babcock reached a mutual consensus on his stepping down, with the club citing the need to avoid impending distractions that might hinder the upcoming season. Acknowledging the challenge of continuing as head coach amidst the building whirlwind, Babcock expressed sorrow over leaving a task unfinished. However, recognizing the organization’s best interest, he gracefully stepped back.

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen maintained that the decision was vital to maintaining the team’s laser-like focus on their upcoming season.

Babcock, widely recognized for his Stanley Cup-winning term with Detroit in 2008, took up the Columbus leadership role, proclaiming himself as a changed coach after a three-year hiatus. His sabbatical followed a critical backlash from former players after being sacked by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019. He stated his evolved approach towards coaching and managing players had given him a fresh perspective.

Taking the helm now is Pascal Vincent, who expressed readiness to shoulder the responsibilities that lay ahead. Vincent, 51, shifted to the Blue Jackets camp as associate coach in 2021, backed by a decade-long association with the Winnipeg Jets organization. His previous experience included a five-year stint helming the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose, from 2016-21.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.