Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Mike Babcock has resigned. Pascal Vincent has been named head coach as a replacement heading into the 2023-24 NHL season. Here’s the full statement from the Blue Jackets:
“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,” General Manager and Alternate Governor Jarmo Kekalainen told the Blue Jackets’ website on Sunday. “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.”
Vincent has already agreed to a two-year contract extension. Babcock had signed a two-year contract with the Blue Jackets after the calendar flipped this summer. Babcock had come under scrutiny when it was leaked how he was handling interactions with certain players, including LW Johnny Gaudreau.
The Blue Jackets enter this season after finishing last in the Metropolitan division with 59 points. They were awarded the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, which they used to select Michigan C Adam Fantilli. The Blue Jackets are +15000 to win the Stanley Cup on DraftKings Sportsbook and +18000 to win the Metro division.
While Babcock resigning is tough, the Blue Jackets have a good core heading into this season. Gaudreau is signed long-term and Fantilli should evolve into a top-line center. Patrik Laine, Boone Jenner and Kent Johnson round out some of the top forward group while D Zach Werenski should start the season healthy after missing most of last season.