Sports and sports fans love a good redemption story, even if the story is uneasy at first. For the Columbus Blue Jackets who are searching for the organization’s next head coach the team has been tight lipped thus far on just who is on the list and who they have and have not spoken to. A few name have been released, associate coach Pascal Vincent who joined Columbus in 2021, former Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette, and former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock are said to have interviewed and/or talked to the Blue Jackets front office. One name not mentioned but perhaps should be is former Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville.
Of the names mentioned, Pascal Vincent is the least likely to ruffle any feathers of emotion. Peter Laviolette is said to be a demanding coach along the lines of former Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella. Mike Babcock does not sit well for many as it has been well documented that Babcock has faced accusations of mistreatment of players.
The real question mark is Joel Quenneville who would qualify as a redemption story but is at the mercy of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Quenneville, while coach of the Chicago Blackhawks was accused of a sexual abuse coverup. The allegations forced Quenneville to step down as coach of the Florida Panthers and he went before Bettman to discuss his involvement and must meet with the commissioner once again before he would be allowed to coach.
While it is unclear exactly who the Blue Jackets have and are talking to it seems a bit of a stretch that the organization would hire either Babcock or Quenneville. Both would be hard sells for both players and fans. Both coaches have won big in the NHL but that alone can not be reason to hire them.
The Columbus Blue Jackets front office is taking the right approach. The organization must get the hire right. With young players such as Kent Johnson, Kirill Marchenko and others any new coach is going to need to have developmental skills as well as managing veterans. This is a bit tricky to get right but a balanced coach is important to the now and future of the Blue Jackets.