Less than a month left before the start of the new National Hockey League season , and high-profile events overseas are already happening. It is symbolic that the fire broke out in the state of Ohio, where the famous coach Mike Babcock recently took a job.
In November 2019, the Canadian specialist left the post of helmsman of the Toronto Maple Leafs with a scandal. Then Babcock became known as a real, as it is fashionable to say now, abuser – he put pressure on his players, humiliated them and even brought the best players of the team to tears. Since then, the eminent coach with a dubious reputation did not find a way to return to the NHL until the Columbus Blue Jackets signed a contract with him in July. The contract was designed for two years, but was terminated after two months.
Babcock is embroiled in a new scandal. What's the point? The Spittin' Chiclets podcast is very popular in North America. During one of the broadcasts, his host Paul Bissonnette talked about a strange story from the Blue Jackets camp, according to which Babcock demanded that his players show him their personal photographs stored in the smartphones of hockey players, under the pretext of a desire to better know the players and their lifestyle off the ice. . Not all Columbus players approved of this idea and rightly considered the coach’s intentions an attempt to invade their personal lives.
At Bissonnette’s suggestion, the club, together with the NHL and the league’s hockey players’ union, began an investigation. Babcock, commenting on the case, said the podcast's hosts had “grossly misrepresented” the situation and made it “extremely offensive” to the coach: “At a meeting with the players and staff, I asked them to share family photos to get to know them better. This was very important and useful not only for me, but also for them.” Captain of the “uniforms” Boone Jenner and one of the team leaders Johnny Gaudreau also said that they did not see anything special in the coach's approach and called the case overblown. But Bissonnette, who broke up the scandal, did not give up his position and openly attacked Babcock:
“He needs to stop talking nonsense. He needs to stop luring players into the coaching room and interrogating them. Babs, you need to do something smarter. And you can shove your statement up your ass.”
Can you imagine someone… Has any Russian journalist or blogger addressed a coach or functionary of a KHL club this way? Hardly.
As a result of the investigation, the executive director of the NHL players' union, Marty Walsh, said that Babcock did not receive the respect that hockey players deserve, so his dismissal is the only correct outcome. At least that's what the league thinks.
The coach had no chance to “survive” Mike Babcock is a great, legendary coach. The only hockey coach to be included in the Triple Gold Club. Under his leadership, the Canadian team won the Olympics twice and the World Championship again, and the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup with him. But even such regalia does not “wash” his current reputation. In the North American hockey community, Babcock is openly slandered and expressed hatred and contempt towards him. “There is hardly a person in hockey that everyone doesn’t like more than Babcock” – there are plenty of similar sayings in the overseas media. With a resume like that, it's clear that it won't be long before the 60-year-old Canadian finds a new NHL job, if at all.
“On reflection, I realized that continuing to work for the Blue Jackets would be too much of a distraction. It's a shame that I don’t have the opportunity to do it, but my departure now would be in the interests of the club,” Babcock said.
You won’t envy Columbus. Dmitry Voronkov, who is now getting used to his new team and is waiting for his main debut for the “uniforms” in the NHL, too. Pascal Vincent is now entrusted with leading the Blue Jackets. The 51-year-old Canadian makes his debut as the head coach of a team in the world's main hockey league: he previously headed the Winnipeg farm club Manitoba Moose in the AHL, and since 2021 he has been Brad Larsen's assistant in Columbus.