Mike Babcock has resigned as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets less than three months after taking the job, the team announced Sunday. Pascal Vincent has been named interim coach and agreed to a two-year contract through the 2024-25 NHL season.
“This was a difficult decision on everyone’s part, but one we felt necessary to ensure our focus remains on the players and the team’s upcoming season,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire Blue Jackets organization, we want to thank Mike for his hard work and the professionalism he has shown in working together on a plan to step down.”
The coaching change comes amid allegations of Babcock allegedly violating players’ privacy during offseason meetings by insisting they show him personal photos from their phones.
This is not the first time Babcock has faced controversy. Former Red Wings forward Johan Franzen accused Babcock of verbal abuse and described him as “the worst person I have ever met.” In another instance, Babcock, then with the Maple Leafs, allegedly made Mitch Marner rank his teammates by their work ethic.
“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,” Babcock said in a statement. “While I’m disappointed to not have had the opportunity to continue the work we’ve begun, I know it’s in 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.”
The club is now moving forward with Vincent, the 2017-18 American Hockey League Coach of the Year. He joined the Blue Jackets as associate coach in 2021. Prior to that, he was part of the Winnipeg Jets organization for 10 seasons, including five as head coach of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.