The NHLPA's Executive Director Marty Walsh and Assistant Executive Director Ron Hainsey were in Columbus Thursday amidst allegations against Mike Babcock, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
NHLPA Executive Director Marty Walsh and Assistant Executive Director Ron Hainsey are in Columbus today to meet with some Blue Jackets as part of the investigation into Mike Babcock and viewing of players' phones/photos.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 14, 2023
According to The Athletic's Katie Strang, "it’s fair to assume concerns about the alleged conduct have escalated."
Given that the NHLPA traveled to Columbus to meet in person w/ the team on this, its fair to assume concerns about the alleged conduct have escalated. Also reasonable to expect the union will canvas players from Babcocks previous stops to assess whether this happened before— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) September 14, 2023
Thursday evening, Friedman wrote a report, linked here, that included the following:
Marty Walsh and NHLPA Assistant Executive Director Ron Hainsey met with Blue Jackets players in Columbus, a meeting described by several sources as “intense.” On Tuesday, when the story broke from Paul Bissonnette on the Spittin' Chiclets podcast, both the NHL and NHLPA initially were satisfied with the explanations from Boone Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau. However, it appears things changed for both later that night when information was received that some of the younger Blue Jackets were uncomfortable with what had occurred. That appears to be the major focus of the investigation.
He added that the Blue Jackets "promised to co-operate fully in the process."
NHL/NHLPA to meet tomorrow as Babcock investigation continues: https://t.co/tXQ6WfD7rX— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 15, 2023
This comes two days after Spittin' Chiclets alleged that Mike Babcock has "been asking various Blue Jackets to see their phones then AirPlaying their photos on his office TV."
Three Blue Jackets players, Boone Jenner, Zach Werenski, and Johnny Gaudreau, have publicly supported Babcock in light of these allegations.
"I thought it was a great first meeting and good way for us to start to build a relationship," Jenner said in a team statement Tuesday. "To have this blown out of proportion is truly disappointing.”
"There were no boundaries crossed at all with anyone," Werenski said Wednesday on 97.1 FM The Fan's Rothman & Ice.
"I was a little upset how it kind of kind of got blown out of proportion there," Gaudreau said on Wednesday's episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek. "Obviously I think a lot of people saw Boone [Jenner's] statement but I think one other way to get to know someone that you've never met before is to get to know each other's families. Whether that's through pictures or [whatever] it is, I think it was his way of kind of getting to know me and I got to know him."
The Blue Jackets begin their on-ice portion of training camp on September 21.