Mike Babcock resigned as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team announced Sunday.
The club also announced that associate coach Pascal Vincent has been named head coach and agreed to a two-year contract through the 2024-25 National Hockey League season.
The resignation comes amid an investigation into reports of Babcock invading the privacy of his players.
Ex-NHLer Paul Bissonnette said on the “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast he was told by an unidentified player that Babcock asked players to see photos on their phones and would then stream them on his television.
Babcock and Columbus captain Boone Jenner said in a joint statement released by the Blue Jackets that the report is “a gross misrepresentation of those meetings and extremely offensive.”
The NHL Players’ Association said on Thursday that its executive director and assistant executive director were in Columbus, Ohio, to investigate the reports. Marty Walsh and Ron Hainsey were meeting with some Blue Jackets players as part of the investigation.
In a statement released Sunday, the Blue Jackets said Babcock’s resignation was a mutual decision between the team and coach.
“Upon reflection, it has become clear that continuing as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets was going to be too much of a distraction,” Babcock said in statement. “While I’m disappointed to not have had the opportunity to continue the work we’ve begun, I know it’s in the best interest of the organization for me to step away at this time. I wish everyone in the organization well in the upcoming season.”
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said the move was necessary “to ensure our focus remains on the players and the team’s upcoming season.”
Babcock has spent nearly four years out of the league after being fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs, with former players criticizing the Stanley Cup winning coach after his departure. Babcock was named Columbus’ head coach on July 1.
– With files from The Associated Press