Ownership has spoken in Columbus.
Members of the media, fans and observers have been wondering when the McConnell family, majority owners of the Blue Jackets, would weigh in on the events of the last week-plus.
Mike Babcock's resignation after less than than three months as head coach brought more negative attention to the franchise, which has been under scrutiny since Babcock's appointment in July. On Monday, an hour before John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen were scheduled to speak to the media along with newly-appointed head coach Pascal Vincent, ownership released a statement.
“Our ownership group is deeply frustrated and disappointed by the events of the past week. We have been in contact with John Davidson, Jarmo Kekalainen and our management team throughout this process and were in full agreement with Mike Babcock stepping down and Pascal Vincent leading our team as head coach," the statement read.
“We had candid conversations with our leadership after last season about our goals and expectations for growth and progress on the ice in 2023-24. Those expectations are still in place and can still be achieved, so we do not anticipate further changes to our hockey leadership team at this time. Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days. We will continue to have regular communications with our hockey leadership and are looking forward to an exciting season.”
So, long story short: Davidson and Kekalainen's jobs are safe – for now.
The front office has plenty of questions to answer about the Babcock saga, starting with the hiring process itself and continuing with how the situation impacts the locker room and trust between leadership and the players. How much bad press is too much to handle? The McConnells, widely known as some of the most hands-off owners in professional sports, finally felt it was enough to make a (very) rare public statement.