Columbus played for the “new ethics”

Columbus played for the “new ethics”

Another notable victim of the “new ethics” in sports was the famous Canadian hockey coach Mike Babcock. The Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League, which appointed Babcock as a coach in the summer, hoping that with his help they could get rid of their outsider status, was forced to fire the specialist before the start of the season amid a loud scandal that provoked an investigation by the NHL players' union. It is associated with accusations against the coach of unacceptable methods of working with hockey players and invasion of their privacy. For example, it turned out that Babcock forced them to show personal photos from their mobile phones.

NHL club Columbus Blue Jackets announced about the dismissal of Mike Babcock as head coach. Commenting on it, Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen called the decision “difficult” and considered it necessary to publicly thank Babcock for the “professionalism” he showed in “developing a plan” for leaving. Mike Babcock himself said that he agreed to resign in the “interests of the organization”, being “disappointed” with this outcome.

In fact, we are talking about a rare emergency. The fact is that Mike Babcock received the position of coach of Columbus only in July of this year, and North American hockey experts considered this appointment one of the most intriguing among those that have taken place in the NHL in recent years. Columbus returned one of its most famous specialists to the league after a four-year break.

Mike Babcock, now 60, once earned a reputation as perhaps the strongest Canadian hockey coach. Under his leadership, the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings reached the Stanley Cup finals.

The Detroiters played with Babcock twice in the decisive playoff series, and in 2008 they won the trophy. Even more impressive is Mike Babcock's success as coach of the Canadian national team in its optimal composition, with the participation of NHL stars. With him, she took gold at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games in Vancouver and Sochi, and also won the World Cup in 2016. With Babcock's help, Columbus, once a promising club, hoped to shake off its underdog status, having failed to make the playoffs in the previous three seasons. An extremely expensive contract was signed with the coach - a two-year contract with a salary of $4 million per year. However, Mike Babcock was unable to play a single official game with the club. The dismissal took place a little less than a month before the start of the next season.

However, its reason is not a secret. Mike Babcock became the latest victim of the “new ethics” in sports, leaving Columbus amid a scandal that, at least in America, was comparable in volume to the one that led to the separation from the post of Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales in September. unsuccessful kissed soccer player Jennifer Hermoso was awarded the world championship gold medal to the national women's team.

It reached a critical point last week after the release of an episode of the extremely popular hockey podcast Spittin' Chiclets in the US and Canada. Its host, former NHL player Paul Bissonnette, spoke about the unusual methods used by Mike Babcock to get closer to Columbus players.

In particular, Bissonnette claimed that the coach forced club captain Boone Jenner to show him a photo from the athlete’s mobile phone. Moreover, he projected them onto the wall of his office using the Air Play function.

Columbus offensive leader Johnny Gaudreau confirmed ESPN, who also publicly displayed his private photos at Babcock’s request. And Mike Commodore, an ex-NHL hockey player who played under Mike Babcock for a long time, reported on his X (formerly Twitter) account that several other players on the team, including “a very highly rated young talent,” faced the same thing. In the summer, Columbus drafted 18-year-old Canadian forward Adam Fantilli with the third overall pick, whom analysts consider a potential superstar. The commodore, like Bissonnette, equated the incident to an invasion of privacy.

Following this news, ugly stories surfaced regarding Mike Babcock's past. Let's say about the insults of Detroit players and how at his previous job, in the Toronto Maple Leafs, the coach once forced forward Mitch Marner to secretly compile for him a rating of the team's players based on their dedication. The incident was reported to the club's general manager, Lou Lamoriello, and soon they said goodbye to Babcock. It is believed that the coach’s behavior, which does not meet modern standards, was the reason why since 2019, despite his track record, he could not get a job in the NHL again and worked in university hockey.

For some time, representatives of Columbus tried to extinguish the scandal.

Mike Babcock himself released the official statement, in which he admitted that he had requested that the entire team be shown "family photos" of the players in order to "get to know each other better," an approach he said had been "helpful." Boone Jenner insisted that he was even “happy” to share the photos. Johnny Gaudreau expressed a similar opinion.

Meanwhile, the NHL Players Association was not convinced by their words, and it opened an emergency investigation into Mike Babcock. The bulk of it involved a meeting between union executive director Marty Walsh and his deputy, Ron Hainsey, with Columbus players late last week. The structure did not provide details of these conversations. However, ESPN, citing its own sources, notes that in the course of them it turned out that the club’s youth did not at all share the point of view of experienced partners regarding Babcock’s methods and that Paul Bissonnette’s revelations were in fact “just the tip of the iceberg.”

According to the same ESPN, after meetings with the players, the union staff firmly insisted on the dismissal, it is possible, “ended” as a coach due to the “toxicity” of Mike Babcock, instead of whom Columbus had to move celebrity assistant Pascal Vincennes to the position of coach. And Marty Walsh, summing up what happened, limited himself to a short phrase that hockey players “deserve to be treated with respect.”

Alexey Dospehov

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