NHL: Mike Babcock Resigns, Pascal Vincent Promoted to Head Coach What’s Next for Blue Jackets?

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Mike Babcock has resigned from his post as their head coach, per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

The team has made the official announcement and is being replaced by Pascal Vincent, who got promoted to the team’s head coach. Previously he served as an associate coach on the staff.

“Upon reflection, it has become clear that continuing as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets was going to be too much of a distraction,” said Babcock in a release. “While I’m disappointed to not have had the opportunity to continue the work we’ve begun, I know it’s the best interest of the organization for me to step away at this time. I wish everyone in the organization well in the upcoming season.”

Babcock is the Subject of an NHL/NHLPA Investigation

Mike Babcock

Over the past week, Babcock was the subject of a joint investigation by the NHL and the NHLPA boosted by the allegations that he asked to view phones and/or photographs of several Blue Jackets players, as first reported by NHL on TNT analyst Paul Bissonette on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast.

Bissonette said that Babcock asked Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner to show him his camera roll before displaying the photos via AirPlay on the coach’s office.

“Enough with putting guys on the spot in the coaches room asking them to link their phones up to AirPlay mode and grilling them. I’ve had tons of players confirm it,” said Bissonette after the episode was released.

Friedman also reported on an earlier episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast last week that while Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau were comfortable with their exchanges with Babcock with the photo sharing, many younger players on the roster did not feel that same way.

NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and assistant executive director Ron Hainsey, who played three seasons with the Blue Jackets (2005-08), met with the players at Nationwide Arena after a morning skate. The trip wasn’t previously planned, and it was specifically made to look into the allegations against Babcock.

A Look into Vincent’s Coaching Track

Pascal Vincent
Dec 9, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Winnipeg Jets assistant coach Pascal Vincent during the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Jets defeated the Stars 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent was previously an associate coach with the Blue Jackets, and it was an easy decision to make because he has been around the organization since 2021 and is very familiar with the players. He was also a candidate for Columbus’ head coaching job before Babcock was hired.

He has over 1,000 games of coaching experience with the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, winning coach of the year honors at both places. He also steps in as the team’s head coach days before training camp. He previously was an associate coach under Brad Larsen after 10 years with the Winnipeg Jets organization both as an assistant and with AHL Manitoba.

With Columbus, Vincent has been in charge of the team’s power play, which finished 24th (18.6%) in 2021-22 and 26th (18.3%) in 2022-23. However, they had the third-best power play through the month of March 2023 (27.5%). With Ivan Provorov, Damon Severson, and Adam Fantilli added to the mix, he is looking for improvement on the team’s power play.

There are still questions that linger around the organization and if there is any furhter fallout from Babcock’s resignation. One of such questions are who will join Vincent as an assistant. But if the team can rally around Vincent despite the controversy, he will get a lot of credibility in the coaching ranks.

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