Jack Todd: Goodbye and good riddance to Mike Babcock


The fact Columbus saw fit to hire him in the first place is discouraging. At every turn, it seems, the ugly underbelly of hockey surfaces.

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The results are in but the question remains: What on Earth were the Columbus Blue Jackets thinking?

By now it should be clear. Given the opportunity, Mike Babcock is going to Babcock. He can’t help himself. With Babcock forced to resign his head coaching post with the Blue Jackets this weekend, his NHL career is over — and you would hope that other teams at every level of the sport would realize this is not a man you want coaching young players.

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But the fact that Columbus saw fit to hire Babcock in the first place is discouraging. What does it take? At every turn, it seems, the ugly underbelly of hockey surfaces again.

From a competition standpoint, you can understand why desperate organizations reach out for coaches like Babcock. Much is made of the fact that he’s the only head coach who has pulled off the trifecta, winning a Stanley Cup, two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup.

Look closer, however, and you will note that Babcock won his Stanley Cup with Scotty Bowman’s Red Wings and the Olympic and World Cup gold medals coaching Team Canada. Those teams could have dominated with Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone behind the bench.

Handed truckloads of corporate money to coach the talented young core of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Babcock left the Red Wings awash in crocodile tears and did a full face plant in Toronto, failing to win a single playoff series during four seasons and 23 games of a fifth before he was fired in November 2019.

Then came the revelations of the rather spectacular Babcock downside. The head games. The bullying. Tormenting Johan Franzen, who had been a playoff beast for the Red Wings.

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This time, Babcock had supposedly learned his lesson. Instead, we got the thoroughly creepy invasion of privacy in Columbus, with Blue Jackets players asked to reveal what photos were on their phones in sessions with Babcock — something he has apparently pulled at other NHL stops.

With Babcock, the tough part is understanding why he does the things he does — and how his various stunts relate to his job, which is winning hockey games.

Why does Babcock think it might improve his team if he forced Mitch Marner to list his teammates in order of their work ethic, then share the list with the players at the bottom, leaving the young star in a terrible position? Why bully Franzen to the brink of a meltdown?

And what could he possibly hope to gain by peeking at the photos on a player’s phone? If you want to get to know someone, sit down and talk to them.

Franzen said Babcock was “a terrible person, the worst I have ever met. He’s a bully who was attacking people. It could be a cleaner at the arena in Detroit or anybody. He would lay into people without any reason.”

That should have been warning enough. Given a second chance he did not deserve, Babcock couldn’t resist, knowing that every act would be under a microscope in his return to the NHL. This time, he failed to make it even as far as the first exhibition game.

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You would hope that’s the end of it, that Babcock doesn’t surface at some other hockey outpost claiming that he’s a changed man. Given all that went before, it’s discouraging that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly’s first instinct was to absolve Babcock of all wrongdoing in Columbus.

Instead, with more revelations coming from young Blue Jackets players and the NHLPA investigating, John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen finally had to act. Babcock was forced out and replaced by Laval native Pascal Vincent.

The question remains. Knowing Babcock’s history, what were the Blue Jackets thinking in the first place?


Status of reports on investigations into the alleged gang rape involving junior hockey players in London, Ontario on June 18, 2018:

Hockey Canada investigation: Pending

NHL investigation: Pending

London police investigation: Pending


No lark for the locals: It was a game the Alouettes could have won, but it goes into the record books as another loss, a 23-20 heartbreaker to the Argos after a blocked field goal ended it.

Not so long ago, the Als were winning back-to-back games with backup Caleb Evans at quarterback. Now they’re riding a four-game losing streak, they’re a game under .500 — and if you can figure out how this is an improvement on what they could have achieved with Khari Jones as head coach and Barron Miles running the defence, let me know.

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Meanwhile, CF Montréal offered up one of those stirring 0-0 ties that make soccer so stultifying at times, this one at home against Chicago. This team wasn’t simply a better team under Wilfried Nancy, it was significantly more entertaining. The 2022 edition actually scored goals.

Heroes: Andre De Grasse, the Professional Women’s Hockey League, Carlos Sainz Jr., Tyson Philpot, Puka Nacua, Shohei Ohtani, Claude Cormier, &&&& last but not least, Alexia Putellas.

Zeros: Mike Babcock, Andrew Shaw, Luis Rubiales, Kevin Porter Jr., Paul Pogba, Arte Moreno, Jann Wenner, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.

Now and forever.



  1. The Canadiens took a bit of a risk when they hired the inexperienced Martin St. Louis to replace Dominique Ducharme in February 2022 as the team's head coach, Stu Cowan writes.

    Stu Cowan: Canadiens’ Martin St. Louis is the opposite of Mike Babcock

  2. It has been a mere 15 months since NHL commissioner Gary Bettman promised a thorough investigation of the 2018 junior assault scandal and eight months since Bettman said the investigation was “getting really close to the end,” Jack Todd writes.

    Jack Todd: Hockey is in an existential battle for its soul

  3. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman knows that the massive Hockey Canada sexual assault scandal is too big to be contained by the usual smoke and mirrors. Bettman’s strategy will be to mitigate the reaction, Jack Todd writes.

    Jack Todd: NHL won’t be able to sweep Hockey Canada’s mess under the rug

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