Mike Babcock out as Blue Jackets head coach, Bedard puts on a show in first game as a Hawk: Around the NHL
Photo credit:© The Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY NETWORK
2 months ago
Welcome back to Around the NHL — the column here at CanucksArmy where we examine news and notes from around the National Hockey League, oftentimes through a Vancouver Canucks-tinted lens.
It’s Sunday, which meant the only headlines we were expecting to dive into today were the ones that came out of the Vancouver Canucks prospects’ performances at the Young Stars Classic, which is underway in Penticton, BC. We’ve had plenty of coverage of that tournament and will continue to right up until Monday’s finale. But in the meantime, we’ve got some significant league-wide headlines to dive into.
Mike Babcock out as Columbus head coach
This is a story that we’ve been following all week, and it appears its finally reached its conclusion. As first reported by Elliotte Friedman, Mike Babcock and the Columbus Blue Jackets have parted ways. According to Friedman, Babcock is set to resign from his position as head coach. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli provided some further context into the situation, as it pertains to the NHLPA and NHL investigations into the matter.
The Blue Jackets hired Babcock in July, and he was set to coach in the NHL for the first time this season since Toronto Maple Leafs fired him in 2019. The Jackets announced an investigation into their new bench boss on Tuesday after a report from Paul Bissonnette of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast claimed Babcock was going through players’ personal photos on their phones.
Here’s what Bissonnette originally said, in case you missed it:
“I get a text from a player. He goes, ‘have you heard what Babcock is up to again?’ So he gets to Columbus, and one of the first things he does is he calls in Boone Jenner, the [expletive] captain of the team, and he says, ‘let me see the photos in your phone, I want to know the type of person you are.’ What the [expletive] is going on? I want to get him on the podcast to grill him about his antics as a head coach. Like, worry about the [expletive] forecheck, worry about your personnel.”
The Blue Jackets, Babcock and captain Boone Jenner responded to Bissonnette’s claim later that day.
“While meeting with our players and staff I asked them to share, off their phones, family pictures as part of the process of getting to know them better. There was absolutely nothing more to it than that,” Babcock said in a statement issued by the team on Sept. 12. “The way this was portrayed on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast was a gross misrepresentation of those meetings and extremely offensive.”
“While meeting with Babs he asked me about my family and where I’m from, my upcoming wedding and hockey-related stuff,” Jenner said in a statement from the team. “He then asked if I had pictures of my family and I was happy to share some with him. He showed me pictures of his family. I thought it was a great first meeting and good way for us to start to build a relationship. To have this blown out of proportion is truly disappointing.”
According to multiple reports, both the NHL and NHLPA were at first satisfied with the explanations they got from both Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau. But then things changed. “It appears things changed for both later that night when information was received that some of the younger Blue Jackets were uncomfortable with what had occurred,” Friedman reported Thursday night.
On Friday, the NHL and NHLPA met for what was a previously scheduled meeting, but the Babcock situation was pushed to the top of their priority list to discuss.
As Seravalli mentioned in his report, the NHLPA’s investigation “left no path for Babcock to continue as coach.” Friedman reported shortly after that Pascal Vincent will replace Babcock as head coach in Columbus. Friedman also reported the following:
“According to multiple sources, one of the most serious concerns was a meeting that occurred away from team facilities that included “several minutes” of looking through a phone. That was beyond the scope of what was initially understood to have occurred.”
Both Babcock and GM Jaarmo Kekalaianen spoke on the matter in Friedman’s story:
“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,” said Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. “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.”
“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. “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.”
Bedard puts on a show during Hawks’ Prospect Showcase
While the Canucks, Jets, Oilers, and Flames, have the Young Stars Classic, other teams in the league put on similar prospect showcases to give their prospects a chance to play in a competitive environment while wearing their club’s uniform.
Unfortunately for Canucks fans, that means we all got to see Connor Bedard put on a show in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform on Saturday night.
During a 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues, Bedard tallied a hat trick. Now, all of these are impressive in their own ways, but just watch the second one:
Like any good North Vancouver kid would, Bedard has continued to say things like “if I make the team” before answering questions about his expectations for this season in the NHL.
We’re going out on a limb here, but we say he makes the team.
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