The executive of the Blue Jackets acknowledges a significant mistake in the decision to hire Mike Babcock, resulting in his subsequent resignation.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets owners and executives on Monday were contrite over the forced resignation of controversial coach Mike Babcock days before the opening of training camp and eager to move on from the turmoil that engulfed the organization.
“I cannot reword.”
Babcock resigned on Sunday after requesting to view photos on players’ cellphones as part of a bonding effort led to an investigation last week by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association. He was gone after two months on the job, with assistant Pascal Vincent tapped to replace him and given a two-year contract.
Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen continue to oversee hockey operations, as confirmed by ownership in a statement, despite the mistake.
“At this moment, we do not expect any more modifications to our hockey leadership team,” stated the owners, headed by John P. McConnell. “Introducing more disruptions would have a negative impact on our players and coaches who are currently getting ready for the commencement of training camp in just two days.”
Kekalainen expressed that he had a meeting with the players on Monday and offered his apologies for the situation.
PHOTOS: Blue Jackets executive admits a ‘major misstep’ in hiring Mike Babcock, who was forced to resign
“I made a mistake by believing that Mike Babcock should be given another chance to coach,” Kekalainen admitted during the team’s planned media day. “I take full responsibility for that decision.”
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.
Vincent, 52, was an assistant under fired coach Brad Larsen for the past two seasons and stayed on when Babcock was hired. He twice interviewed for the job that he got after Babcock’s resignation.
The individual from Laval, Quebec expressed that the previous week was challenging. The most significant lesson learned from this experience was the rapidity of change.
Vincent expressed that at times, one may follow a specific approach while striving to make the correct choices, yet remain uncertain about the outcome. The initial realization occurs when one finds themselves in the position they have always aspired for. Vincent has gained knowledge from this experience and believes that by conducting oneself in a proper manner, driven by genuine intentions, they become prepared for when an opportunity arises. This is how Vincent currently perceives the situation.
The Blue Jackets had high expectations with the experienced Babcock leading the team, given his impressive track record of winning a Stanley Cup and two Olympic gold medals. However, Columbus, plagued by injuries, had a disappointing season, finishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a record of 25-48-9. This marked their third consecutive season of missing the playoffs.
Boone Jenner, the captain of the Blue Jackets, initially stood by Babcock when concerns about his behavior arose. However, he now states that the team is prepared to progress with Vincent.
“We have experienced a significant amount of disturbance recently, but we are determined to redirect our attention. With Vincent as our coach, we aim to make this shift immediately,” Jenner stated.
Patrik Laine, a forward who has been acquainted with Vincent since joining the NHL at 18 years old, expressed his admiration and gratitude for the skills of the new coach.
“I cannot reword”
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