Mike Babcock is a well-known name in the NHL coaching world. He is one of the most successful coaches of all time, with 700 career wins. He also has a Stanley Cup victory with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.
Babcock has the pedigree of a veteran coach, which is what the Columbus Blue Jackets might be aiming for, unlike Brad Larsen who was fired last month after two losing seasons with the club.
Pierre Lebrun of The Athletic was quick to report Babcock as a potential fit for Columbus, which you can find here:
With a little bit of backstory on Babcock and Columbus, let’s dive into his actual coaching style and then if he would fit what the Blue Jackets are looking for.
How does Mike Babcock coach?
My first reaction to seeing the report about Columbus interviewing was a mixture of surprise and confusion. Whenever Babcock was fired from Toronto in 2019, there were reports that Babcock was verbally abusive toward players.
Much of the NHL community dating back to when he was fired said he was “A great coach but a terrible person.”
Now, generally speaking, his actual coaching style does line up with the way the league is heading, as Babcock’s style is about puck movement and skill. But enough has been reported about his personality and how he actually treats his players to raise some concerns.
In today’s NHL, it’s more important than ever for a coach to talk to his players the right way, because if not, it’s very easy to lose the room.
Babcock might possess the right coaching style on the ice, but I don’t think how he treats his players would translate in today’s NHL.
The Blue Jackets and Babcock are not a match.
The main reason I believe these two are not a match is that Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine have had recent experiences with head coaches who are toxic toward their players. Gaudreau had Darryl Sutter, and Patrik Laine had John Tortorella.
Laine had his minutes fluctuate to even being benched by Tortorella during the 2020-21 season. Gaudreau had mixed results with Sutter, but there are reports of Sutter calling him out.
This is just pure speculation by me, but Sutter seemed like a big reason why Tkachuk and Gaudreau departed from Calgary last season, and reports came in before Sutter was fired about players being unmotivated to play for him and that he lost the locker room.
I bring this all up to make this point: It would be foolish of the Blue Jackets to bring in a coach who might be even more harsh or toxic to the players than the two former coaches of their two biggest stars.
Columbus needs a players’ coach in the locker room, someone who can make their voice be heard while communicating it in the right way, and Babcock might be the furthest thing from that.