Mike Babcock was known for being a fairly abrasive and controversial figure before the Blue Jackets decided to hire him to replace former head coach Brad Larsen earlier this year, and the franchise’s decision to take a chance on the skipper backfired in a big way after he resigned following an investigation into his interactions with players after arriving in Columbus.
Last week, Babcock found himself at the center of controversy after Spittin’ Chiclets co-host Paul Bissonnette claimed the coach had rubbed some members of the Blue Jackets the wrong way by asking them to hand over their phones so he could look at the photos in their camera roll.
While it was definitely a strange move, Babcock and the Blue Jackets released a statement featuring testimony from Columbus captain Boone Jenner asserting things had been blown out of proportion while implying the coach had simply asked players to show him some pictures in order to get a better sense of their background and personality.
However, that didn’t stop the NHLPA from conducting an investigation into the matter, and on Sunday, the saga came to an end when the Blue Jackets announced Babcock had resigned around two-and-a-half months after he was officially hired (and before he coached a single game for the team).
Mike Babcock resigns as Head Coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets; club names Pascal Vincent Head Coach
📝 https://t.co/n8j1F2aIG8 https://t.co/NvItvLqzKo
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) September 17, 2023
While details concerning his departure remain somewhat vague, SportsNet reports “younger players said they weren’t comfortable with what had occurred” and that “one of the most serious concerns was a meeting that occurred away from team facilities that included ‘several minutes’ of looking through a phone.”
Plenty of people had gone after Bissonette for supposedly hyping up the story for attention, and he wasted no time taking a victory lap after the news broke (Ryan Whitney also fired a shot at the skeptics who’d attempted to downplay the story).
Wow that's nuts. We were just making all that stuff up for clicks. https://t.co/KNxhkivrP0
— Ryan Whitney (@ryanwhitney6) September 17, 2023
Mike Commodore—the retired NHL defenseman who’s spent years engaging in a high-profile feud with Babcock over how the coach treated him in the AHL—was also pretty thrilled to hear the news based on a tweet where he celebrated the demise of a man he described as an “arrogant piece of s***.”
It’s hard to imagine Babcock will get another shot in the NHL after this, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.