Columbus Blue Jackets appear set to hire Mike Babcock
Aug 11, 2023
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets intend to name Mike Babcock as their new head coach at the end of June.
Why the wait? The two sides are waiting for Babcock's contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs to expire before the move is announced.
Babcock hasn't coached in the NHL since he was fired by the Maple Leafs in November 2019. His eight-year contract with the club finishes at the end of this month.
It's an interesting hire for a team that finished near the bottom of the NHL standings last season after signing a a star in Johnny Gaudreau in free agency, but with a view to much better results in 2023-24.
There's no denying Babcock has a pretty good resume. He coached the Detroit Red Wings to three Stanley Cup Final appearances, winning in 2008. He's also coached Team Canada multiple times at different levels, winning gold at the World Juniors, World Championship, and Winter Olympics.
However, Babcock's tenure with a Maple Leafs team on the rise ended after it came to light that he reportedly asked Mitch Marner to rank the hardest-working players on the team during Marner's rookie season in 2016-17.
Later, former Red Wings forward Johan Franzen disclosed some mental struggles in Detroit and told a Swedish newspaper that Babcock was "a bully who was attacking people" and "the worst person I have ever met."
This was corroborated by Chris Chelios, and others have since come forward with tales of Babcock's mistreatment of his players.
There are very real questions to be answered as to why Columbus would want to build their team around a coach with this kind of reputation, not to mention the fact he hasn't coached a team to a Stanley Cup series win since 2013.
"Yes, he was a very successful coach with the Red Wings, but that was 10 years ago. The game has moved on. The game has changed," says Locked on Blue Jackets co-host Jay Forster.
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Babcock is also likely to get paid handsomely by the Blue Jackets. His expiring deal with the Leafs was worth $50 million. It made him the highest-paid coach in the NHL, earning an average of $6.25 million per season.
Babcock coached the Leafs through a rebuild that saw them add Auston Matthews to the mox, but was unable to get Toronto past the first round in three straight trips to the postseason.
In the meantime, he spent one year coaching at the University of Saskatchewan.
The Blue Jackets had previously been tied to Patrick Roy, who just coached his junior team to a Memorial Cup championship.
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