Mike Babcock will never lead the Columbus Blue Jackets. The head coach resigned and Quebecer Pascal Vincent was named as successor behind the team’s bench.
Hired at the beginning of the summer by the Blue Jackets as head coach, Babcock had been at the heart of turmoil for several days. Former player turned analyst Paul Bissonnette reported on his podcast that Babcock asked Boone Jenner to show him the photos from his phone. The gesture, considered by many to be an invasion of the players’ privacy, was then under investigation by the NHL Players’ Association.
“This decision was difficult for everyone to make, but we deemed it necessary to ensure that we focus on the players and the team’s upcoming season,” said general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. On behalf of the entire Blue Jackets organization, we would like to thank Mike for his hard work and professionalism in working together on an exit plan. “
“Upon reflection, it became clear that continuing as head coach of the Blue Jackets was going to be too much of a distraction,” Babcock said. While I am disappointed that I did not have the opportunity to continue the work we started, I know it is in the best interest of the organization for me to step down at this time. I wish everyone in the organization every success for the upcoming season. ”
Vincent, who signed a new two-year contract as head coach, joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach in 2021. He spent the previous 10 seasons in the Winnipeg Jets organization, including five as head coach of the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League from 2016 to 2021.
“Pascal Vincent is an exceptional coach,” said Kekalainen. He knows our players and our organization and he is respected by everyone here. He was a good candidate for our head coaching position several months ago and is best suited to help us navigate this change as we begin camp. “
Before arriving in Winnipeg, Vincent spent 12 seasons as head coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, from 1999 to 2008, and the Montreal Junior, from 2008 to 2011.
He posted a record of 429-313-87 in 829 games during that span, having 10 winning seasons and winning nine series. He won the Ron Lapointe Trophy, awarded to the best head coach in the QMJHL, after the 2007-08 season, when he guided the Screaming Eagles to a 40-24-6 record.
“It’s a tough day, but I’m looking forward to this opportunity and I appreciate the confidence the organization has in me to lead this team,” Vincent said. We have a superb group of players who have worked very hard to prepare for the season. My goal will be to work with our staff to help them improve every day and be ready for what we think will be an exciting season. ”
Vincent, who was also general manager of his team during his last eight seasons in the QMJHL, won the Maurice-Filion trophy in 2006-2007, as best general manager, with the Screaming Eagles.
A native of Laval, Vincent played four seasons in the QMJHL, totaling 15 goals and 58 points in 252 career games, from 1988 to 1992. He helped Collège-Français de Verdun win the President’s Cup and qualify for the the Memorial Cup tournament, in 1991-92. He played one professional season with the Knoxville Cherokees of the ECHL before launching his coaching career.
Revealing evidence against Babcock
The NHLPA initially seemed satisfied with the explanations provided by Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau regarding Babcock’s practice, but younger players on the team reportedly indicated they were uncomfortable with the situation.
NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and his assistant Ron Hainsey traveled to Columbus to meet with Blue Jackets players and better understand the matter.
One of the meetings lasted “several minutes” during which Babcock looked through the cell phone photos of one of his players.
This isn’t the first time Babcock has made headlines for the wrong reasons during his career. His training techniques have often been criticized, notably after he asked Mitch Marner to make a list of his teammates, ranking them from hardest worker to least.
During his NHL coaching career, Babcock had stints with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Detroit Red Wings as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Before making what was supposed to be his return to the NHL, Babcock worked with the University of Vermont and the University of Saskatchewan over the past two years.