The NHL and NHLPA met Friday to discuss the next steps of the investigation into allegations of invasion of privacy levied against Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Mike Babcock, according to multiple reports.
The meeting was already scheduled before the Babcock situation came to light, with a number of rote league items also on the agenda.
Barstool’s Paul Bissonnette reported Tuesday on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast that Babcock had asked to see photos on his players’ phones before displaying them on his office television via AirPlay. Bissonnette mentioned Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner by name, which led Babcock and Jenner to put out a joint statement through the team that vehemently denied the severity of Bissonnette’s allegations. Columbus star Johnny Gaudreau also came to his bench boss's defense.
Bissonnette hasn’t backed down, standing by his sources while sharing screenshots of unnamed NHL players that allegedly corroborate his report.
NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and assistant executive director Ron Hainsey met with Blue Jackets players to discuss the alleged incidents, with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reporting the meeting was "intense."
Friedman also stated the NHL and NHLPA were initially satisfied there was no wrongdoing, but things changed when it was revealed that "some of the younger Blue Jackets were uncomfortable with what had occurred."
The NHLPA also released a statement on the meeting, though neglected to divulge many details.
"NHLPA officials Marty Walsh, Ron Hainsey and Don Zavelo met with the NHL earlier today at the league's New York City office regarding the matter involving Mike Babcock," it said in a statement Friday. "During this meeting, we provided the NHL with an update on our ongoing review. We do not have any further comment at this time."
When asked on a radio program about the incident, TSN's Darren Dreger said it was plausible Babcock could be dismissed as Blue Jackets head coach.
“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,” Dreger said, while making the distinction that he’s not officially reporting or predicting a Babcock firing.
"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
Babcock is no stranger to controversy. During his tenure as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 60-year-old infamously asked Mitch Marner to rank his teammates’ work ethic, then shared the list with the team against Marner’s will. Johan Franzen, who starred for the Detroit Red Wings under Babcock’s watch, called his former head coach “the worst person” he’s ever met.
Babcock was hired by the Blue Jackets on July 1 and had been out of the league since being fired by the Maple Leafs in November 2019. He previously won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings and is a member of the Triple Gold Club.