It's been a whirlwind week for the Columbus Blue Jackets' front office.
Mid-last week there were reports that head coach Mike Babcock was under review from both the NHL and the NHLPA after popular TNT broadcaster and Barstool podcaster Paul Bissonnette shared some stories regarding Babcock and his treatment of the Blue Jackets' players at pre-season interviews. In particular, Bissonnette reported that Babcock was playing head games with his team's young players, asking them to share photos of their phone and broadcasting them on a television screen for all to see.
Honestly, it doesn't sound like a big deal to me and players like Boone Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau both came forward to say that the 'photo sharing' instances with Babcock were completely innocent. Still, Bissonette and his Spittin' Chiclets crew did not back down from their report, stating that several players had reached out to them personally in conflict with Babcock's, Jenner's and Gaudreau's comments.
Yesterday, the hammer fell. Babcock resigned from his job as Blue Jackets head coach after an NHLPA investigation that NHL insider Elliotte Friedman says dug a little deeper into the matter. In Friedman's words, there was 'no coming back' for Babcock once the investigation was completed.
Now today, the Blue Jackets have issued a statement essentially saying that no other members of the team's coaching or management staff will either be dismissed or will resign as a result of Babcock's indiscretion.
From Blue Jackets owner John McConnell:
“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 were in full agreement with Mike Babcock stepping down and Pascal Vincent leading our team as head coach.
“We had candid conversations with our leadership after last season about our goals and expectations for growth and progress on the ice in 2023-24. Those expectations are still in place and can still be achieved, so we do not anticipate further changes to our hockey leadership team at this time. Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days. We will continue to have regular communications with our hockey leadership and are looking forward to an exciting season.”
- John McConnell
So, if you were wondering if GM Jarmo Kekkalainen and President John Davidson will survive this fiasco... it appears so. For now, at least. You have to imagine that this team will be under intense scrutiny as the season plays out.