The Columbus Blue Jackets, and no doubt Mike Babcock himself, were hoping to sweep the latest controversy surrounding the head coach away with a simple statement but it has become abundantly apparent over the last few days that this story is not going away.
We don't know all the details just yet but there is a growing sense among certain hockey people that something untoward has occurred in Columbus, with both the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association launching their own investigations into the matter.
It may be some time before the results of those investigations are made public, but recently NHL insider Mike Russo shared some details regarding what he has been hearing behind the scenes. During his latest podcast, Russo made it clear that he had spoken directly with players both from within the Blue Jackets organization and around the NHL.
"Trust me when I tell you that there are players in Columbus that were absolutely weirded out by this situation," revealed Russo on the Worst Seats in the House podcast. "And this is not going away, this is a major problem right now."
Russo acknowledged that Babcock's poor reputation around the NHL has made this a difficult story to cover. Not only has Babcock's history with players such as Johan Franzen with the Detroit Red Wings or Mitch Marner with the Toronto Maple Leafs been well documented, but according to Russo there are many players in the league that have it out for the veteran head coach.
"Because of his history of not exactly being the greatest coach and most caring coach for young players in the past, he has put himself in a position where there are so many people in this league that don't like him, in terms of players, that I think people are excitedly trying to out him on every weird thing that he does," admitted Russo.
As for the excuse put forward by the Columbus Blue Jackets and their captain Boone Jenner, Russo isn't buying it.
"I would not want to sit there in a meeting with him and have him go through my phone," admitted Russo. "And it's none of his business to see pictures of my family and I don't believe that Mike Babcock cares about that. I think it's another way of making players feel uncomfortable... I've heard from players in the last couple of days that say this is not a normal thing."
It sounds like there may be a lot more headaches coming the way of the Columbus Blue Jackets and their head coach, and with the season so close at hand you have to believe that the NHL and NHLPA investigations will have to be wrapped up in short order.