The owner of the Columbus Blue Jackets admitted his guilt in the situation with Mike Babcock on Monday.
A day after Babcock and the team parted ways before he even coached a game, the Blue Jackets released a statement that read:
“Our ownership group is deeply frustrated and disappointed by the events of the past week. “We have been in contact with John Davidson, Jarmo Kekalainen and our management team throughout this process and have fully agreed with the resignation of Mike Babcock and the leadership of our team by Pascal Vincent as head coach,” the statement said.
“We had open discussions with our leadership following last season about our goals and expectations for growth and progress on the ice in 2023-24. These expectations are still there and can still be met, so we do not currently anticipate any further changes to our hockey leadership team. Further disruption would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare to open training camp in two days. We will continue to communicate regularly with our hockey leadership and look forward to an exciting season.”
Additionally, Kekalainen said at a media conference, “He apologized to the team this morning for hiring Mike Babcock,” according to Blue Jackets beat writer Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. Team president Davidson said: “We did something wrong and that’s on us.”
Babcock, who previously coached the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks, resigned Sunday after an investigation was launched into his conduct in meetings with players.
Former NHL player Paul Bissonnette said on his podcast Spittin’ Chiclets that Babcock asked the Blue Jackets to see the photos on their personal phones.
Following that accusation – one that Babcock called in a statement “a gross misrepresentation of these meetings and extremely offensive” – the NHL Players’ Association launched an investigation into Babcock’s actions. On Friday, the NHLPA met in New York with the NHL, which was also reviewing the allegations, to discuss its findings.
Assistant head coach Pascal Vincent replaced Babcock.
“This was a difficult decision for all of us, but we felt it was necessary to ensure that our focus remains on the players and the team’s upcoming season,” Kekalainen said in a statement on Sunday. “On behalf of the entire Blue Jackets organization, we would like to thank Mike for his hard work and the professionalism he has demonstrated in working together on a retirement plan.”
Babcock had added in his own statement: “Upon further consideration, it became clear that continuing as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets would be too much of a distraction.
“While I am disappointed that I have not had the opportunity to continue the work I have begun, I know it is in the best interests of the organization for me to step down at this time. I wish everyone in the organization all the best for the coming season.”
Babcock was fired by the Leafs in November 2019.
Babcock won the Stanley Cup in 2008 as coach of the Detroit Red Wings. He also coached Canada to win gold at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.
- With files from Terry Koshan
https://torontosun.com/sports/hockey/we-got-it-wrong-and-thats-on-us-blue-jackets-say-of-mike-babcock-disaster “We did something wrong and that’s on us,” the Blue Jackets say of the Babcock saga