The NHL was quietly preparing for the new regular season, which was just over a couple of weeks away, when a real bomb exploded: Columbus terminated the contract with the head coach, whom they hired less than three months ago. It seemed like something really terrible would have to happen for the club to decide to fire the new coach who had been preparing the team all offseason, right before the regular season. But the reality was surprising.
The NHL commented on rumors that Babcock demanded personal photos from Columbus players.
Mike Babcock asked the players to show personal photos from their phones so he could get to know them better. Interestingly, he did the same with the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he previously worked. The story first surfaced on former NHL players Paul Bissonnette and Ryan Whitney’s Spittin’ Chiclets podcast. After this, Columbus launched his own investigation, which came to such disappointing conclusions.
Photo source: NHL
The coach himself later claimed that the information was distorted. The fact is that he did not force anyone to share personal photos, he only asked to get to know his players better as people, and not as hockey players. However, this did not help the mentor in any way. The story of Mike showing the images to the public is also not, according to him, entirely true: the players themselves chose which photos to share with their partners and which not.
The most interesting thing is that not all Blue Jackets players were outraged by the coach’s action. Many veterans did not see anything special in this, but Captain Boone Jenner openly defended Babcock: “He asked me where he was from, he was interested in my family and the upcoming wedding. We also talk about hockey moments. Then he asked me if he had photographs of my family and I gladly showed them to him. He did the same by showing me a photo of his family. I think it was a great first meeting and a good way to start a relationship. It was very disappointing that he went overboard.”
Photo source: NHL
The club’s main star, Johnny Gaudreau, spoke in the same sense: “It’s a shame to see the whole story going in the wrong direction. It was his way of getting to know me and I got to know him better. If I felt uncomfortable, he would say, “I don’t think I’ll like this.” But I didn’t have any problems with that.”
The NHL also initially responded with restraint, saying that “none of the players believe these photo requests were inappropriate or unacceptable.” But the team’s young hockey players intervened in the matter and went to the players’ union to complain about the coach’s behavior. Apparently, this turned out to be the decisive factor in the story.
Babcock has always been considered a tough coach with a not-so-good reputation. However, he is a man of the old school, whose career developed in the 80s of the last century. He is the only coach in history to be a member of the Triple Gold Club, which includes the Olympic Games, World Championship and Stanley Cup. With such credentials, he can rightly believe that his methods work.
The story is, of course, unpleasant, but couldn’t it have been done with a simple warning? And, for example, send a trainer to some courses where they tell you how to behave in the modern world, so as not to inadvertently offend someone. Why take the plunge immediately upon parting ways with your mentor?
Photo source: NHL
Yes, Babcock certainly could have gone too far at some point, going too far in his desire to get close to the players. But, on the other hand, do the young hockey players themselves, who then ran to complain to the union, have a language? Or did they not dare tell the coach to his face that they were not happy about it and then rushed to judge behind his back? It all looks pretty ugly.
Sergei Fedorov can lead Columbus
Now it is difficult to say what the atmosphere in the team will be like. Everyone understands that the veterans were in favor of the coach and are definitely unhappy because all their summer work was in vain because of some green young people with excellent mental organization. But now everyone will continue playing together. It seems that nothing good can be expected from Columbus for next season.