By Bane Rossi
SEPTEMBER 17, 2023
COLUMBUS, OHIO – After much discussion and careful consideration, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Mike Babcock have together agreed to begin the process for Mike Babcock to step down as head coach effective immediately. 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.
“This was a difficult decision on everyone’s part, but one we felt necessary to ensure our focus remains on the players and the team’s upcoming season,” said Blue Jackets General Manager and Alternate Governor Jarmo Kekalainen. “On behalf of the entire Blue Jackets organization, we want to thank Mike for his hard work and the professionalism he has shown in working together on a plan to step down.”
“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,” said Babcock. “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.”
Vincent, who turns 52 on September 22, joined the Blue Jackets as associate coach in 2021. He spent the previous 10 seasons as a member of the Winnipeg Jets organization, including five as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose from 2016-21. He compiled a 155-139-31 record in 325 AHL games and was awarded the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s Coach of the Year in 2017-18 after guiding the club to a 42-26-8 record with 92 points in 76 games. He was an assistant coach with the Jets under head coaches Claude Noel and Paul Maurice for five seasons from 2011-16.
“Pascal Vincent is an outstanding coach,” said Kekalainen. “He knows our players and organization and is respected by everyone here. He was a strong candidate for our head coaching position several months ago and is in the best position to help us navigate this change as we begin camp and lead our team moving forward.”
Prior to his arrival in Winnipeg, Vincent spent 12 seasons as a head coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles from 1999-2008 and Montreal Juniors from 2008-11. He posted a 429-313-87 record in 829 games during that span, compiling 10 winning seasons and nine playoff series wins. He won the Ron Lapointe Trophy as the league’s top head coach with Cape Breton following the 2007-08 campaign as the Screaming Eagles went 40-24-6 that season.
“This is a difficult day, but I am looking forward to this opportunity and appreciate the organization’s confidence in me to lead this team,” said Vincent. “We have a great group of guys that have been working very hard to prepare for the season. My focus will be to work with our staff to help them get better every day and be ready for what we believe will be an exciting season.”
Vincent, who also served as his club’s general manager over his final eight seasons in the QMJHL, earned the Maurice Filion Trophy in 2006-07 as the top general manager following a season in which Cape Breton finished with a record of 46-22-2 and reached the third round of the playoffs.
The Laval, Quebec native played four seasons in the QMJHL as a center with the St. Jean, Laval and Verdun, registering 15-43-58 and 103 penalty minutes in 252 career games from 1988-92. He helped Verdun win the QMJHL championship and advance to the Memorial Cup tournament in 1991-92 and played one pro season with the ECHL’s Knoxville Cherokees before embarking on his coaching career.
Single game tickets for all home games played at Nationwide Arena during the 2023-24 season are on sale now. Full and partial season tickets for the Blue Jackets’ 2023-24 campaign are currently available for purchase. Information on all ticketing options can be obtained by calling (614) 246-3350 or visiting BlueJackets.com/ticketplans.
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