We might be seeing the earliest coach to be fired in the history of the NHL folks. Mike Babcock, who was fired in late 2019 for creating a toxic work environment with the Maple Leafs, is now under investigation for creating a toxic work environment just over two months into his return as an NHL head coach with the Blue Jackets.
It was an odd move by Columbus to hire Babcock. In his hiatus from the NHL, Babs coached the University of Saskatchewan to their worst record in six years. How is this guy getting an NHL job the second he becomes a free agent? Babcock's contract with the Leafs on July 1, 2023.
Babcock hadn't shown he had learned from his firing from the Leafs, he didn't get results while coaching after getting fired, and more allegations of inappropriate behavior came out after he got fired. Specifically how Babcock tormented former Red Wings Johan Franzen, who called Babcock: "a terrible person."
Just an extremely bizarre move by the Columbus brass. And now they're reaping what they sowed.
Could Babcock Get Fired Before Coaching A Single Game?
We're all still waiting for the NHLPA's investigation into Babcock's behavior, but at the very least, Babcock made his team uncomfortable. Specifically with the youth on the team.
As it stands, the Blue Jackets have the second-youngest roster in the NHL with an average age of 25.66. Looking at their roster on CapFriendly shows they have six players under the age of 24 and that doesn't include promising youngsters like Cole Sillinger (20) and David Jiricek (19).
The Blue Jackets are giving the reigns to the youth so having a guy on the bench who doesn't make them comfortable isn't a good idea.
"Based on the information that has been discovered and percolated to the surface in the last 48 hours, I think there's a chance Babcock's job could be in question... I'm not reporting or predicting it's going to happen, but there's a chance that happens."@DarrenDreger on… pic.twitter.com/ZE0MUd3Gcr— First Up (@FirstUp1050) September 15, 2023
I wouldn't be surprised if Mike Babcock is fired within the next week. I'd be willing to bet the team cites the distraction of the investigation and rumors as the reason for his firing and not any actual wrongdoing.
Blue Jackets Win Totals
But this is the NHL we're talking about. Would it be shocking if the PA reveals Babcock didn't do anything particularly wrong and Columbus keeps him in his post? A decision that will easily disrupt a team and an organization that desperately needs some stability.
Currently, the Jackets are favored to hit OVER 72.5 points this year. At -125 they've been given a 56% implied chance of putting up 14 more points than they did in 22-23.
No way that happens.
The youth are supposed to push this franchise forward and their leader just made them so uncomfortable that the PA had to launch an investigation.
Oh and if Babcock wasn't a big enough distraction, the Blue Jackets also traded for Ivan Provorov in the offseason. The former Flyers defenseman made a big fuss when he revealed rainbows scare him so much he can't wear a jersey with one on it. An action that pushed the NHL to eliminate themed warm-up jerseys.
This team is a tire fire right now. No way they go OVER their points total for the year.