NHL Coach Is Out Amid Player Privacy Controversy

Mike Babcock resigns before coaching a single game for Columbus Blue Jackets
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2023 2:38 AM CDT
NHL Coach Is Out Amid Privacy Controversy
Then-Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock speaks to reporters, April 25, 2019, in Toronto.   (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

A strange privacy scandal has ended Mike Babcock's time as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets almost as soon as it began. Babcock, 60, resigned Sunday, three days before the opening of training camp and before he'd even had a chance to coach a single hockey game for the NHL team, which had just named him as the new coach on July 1. His resignation came shortly after last Tuesday's episode of the Spittin' Chiclets podcast, in which Babcock was accused of violating players' privacy by insisting on being allowed access to their phones and scrolling through their photos, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Initially, the team stuck by Babcock after the team captain and other players defended Babcock's actions, but later backed off on its support after it became clear some younger players weren't comfortable with his behavior, ESPN reports.

While some players, including the team captain, described friendly meetings with Babcock in which he wanted to see pictures of their families, pets, homes, and hobbies in order to get to know them better, others described him handling their phones for long enough to make them feel uncomfortable, SportsNet reports. There was also reportedly concern he might search through text messages. "Our players deserve to be treated with respect in the workplace," the executive director of players' union NHLPA, which had completed an investigation into the matter, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, that was not the case in Columbus. The club's decision to move forward with a new head coach is the appropriate course of action." The new head coach is former associate coach Pascal Vincent. (More Columbus Blue Jackets stories.)

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