NHL: Jackets ownership ‘deeply frustrated and disappointed’

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The ownership group of the Columbus Blue Jackets led by majority owner John McConnell released a statement Monday saying they are “deeply frustrated and disappointed” with the fiasco surrounding coach Mike Babcock and his resignation Sunday.

Babcock, just hired in July, was under fire over allegations that he invaded players’ privacy in meetings over the summer and was the subject of an NHL Players’ Association investigation.

Pascal Vincent was promoted from associate coach to head coach through the 2024-25 season. In the statement, team owners said they are in “full agreement” with Babcock exiting and the hiring of Vincent.

“Our ownership group is deeply frustrated and disappointed by the events of the past week,” the owners said in a statement. “We had candid conversations with our leadership after last season about our goals and expectations for growth and progress on the ice in 2023-24. Those expectations are still in place and can still be achieved, so we do not anticipate further changes to our hockey leadership team at this time.

“Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days. We will continue to have regular communications with our hockey leadership and are looking forward to an exciting season.”

The owners confirmed that team president John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will continue in their positions.

Former NHL player turned podcast host and NHL TV analyst Paul Bissonnette reported that Babcock asked several Jackets players for their phones and displayed pictures via Airplay in Babcock’s office.

Babcock denied that he invaded the players’ privacy, saying it was part of a project to get to know each player better before the start of training camp, and that the players chose which pictures to show him.

Team captain Boone Jenner also released a statement defending Babcock and saying the issue was “blown out of proportion.”

But Babcock resigned Sunday, saying, “It has become clear that continuing as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets was going to be too much of a distraction.”

Babcock, 60, spent time as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks (2002-04), Detroit Red Wings (2005-15) and Toronto Maple Leafs (2015-20). He led Detroit to the Stanley Cup in 2008.

Allegations of a toxic work environment surfaced early in the 2019-20 season, when he was fired by the Maple Leafs after a six-game losing streak. He spent one season as the hockey coach at the University of Saskatchewan after leaving Toronto.

Vincent, 51, will be a first-time NHL head coach. He joined the Columbus coaching staff in June 2021.

–Field Level Media

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