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Blue Jackets Make No Other Executive Changes, Kekalainen Stays

The Columbus Blue Jackets’ ownership has said they won’t make further changes, while Jarmo Kekalainen and John Davidson spoke with the media.

Columbus Blue Jackets owner John P. McConnell has issued a statement following the recent turmoil surrounding the team’s hockey leadership. In his statement, McConnell made it clear that the organization does not anticipate any further changes to its hockey leadership team at this time. He emphasized the importance of stability, particularly as the team prepares to kick off training camp in just two days.

As pointed out by many media insiders who received the release, the ownership group has issued a statement saying it is “deeply frustrated” with the Mike Babcock situation but doesn’t plan any further changes to the hockey operations department. They add that they’ve spoken to all executives who will be keeping their jobs about the expectations for the 2023-24 season and that they will continue to have meetings and conversations as the year progresses.

The upheaval began with the surprising resignation of head coach Mike Babcock. Reports revealed that Babcock had been going through players’ cell phones as a means to familiarize himself with the team and potentially monitor their off-season activities. Some veteran players reportedly complied with his request to share photos, while younger players felt uncomfortable but remained silent until the NHL Players’ Association initiated an investigation into the allegations.

Related: Mike Babcock Resigns as Blue Jackets’ Coach; Pascal Vincent Hired

The situation has raised concerns about the perception of the organization. General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen is now under scrutiny, as his statement regarding Babcock’s departure failed to address the seriousness of the situation adequately. Kekalainen expressed gratitude for Babcock’s “hard work” and “professionalism” without acknowledging or condemning the alleged actions, leaving players and fans disappointed in the absence of clear leadership.

Kekalainen spoke with the media on Monday and ran the announcement of Babcock’s exit. He noted that upon learning of the details behind Babcock’s coaching methods, it was too great a distraction to the team to move forward with him as their coach. He talked about the professionalism of the organization and their commitment to ethical standards. He said the organization believes that players should be treated with respect at all times. He noted the team is not perfect, but they strive to improve in these areas all the time.

Kekalainen said that he had gone through a similar process of sharing photos on his phone and wasn’t uncomfortable with the exercise. John Davidson said the NHLPA got involved and some players had different opinions of sharing their phones and it became clear the players, as a whole, weren’t going to effectively move past this. Kekalainen said he apologized to the team this morning for hiring Mike Babcock. Davidson said, “We got it wrong and that’s on us.”

When asked about the media backlash to the hiring when it first happened, Davidson said, “Maybe they were right.” Kekalainen said they felt they did the proper due diligence, but they need take extra steps moving forward.

As the Blue Jackets navigate this challenging period, it remains to be seen how the organization will address the concerns raised by the recent events. The team’s commitment to creating a supportive and respectful environment for its players and staff will undoubtedly be a central focus moving forward, especially as they prepare for the upcoming season.

Next: Philadelphia Flyers Make Trade Offer For Senators’ Shane Pinto

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