The Columbus Blue Jackets have reportedly found their next head coach. The team is expected to hire veteran head coach Mike Babcock, per Aaron Portzline of The Athletic.
The Blue Jackets will make the hire official when Babcock's contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs expires on June 30. Babcock hasn't coached in the NHL since the Maple Leafs fired him just 23 games into the 2019-20 season.
Babcock, 60, began his head coaching career with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2002-03, and he took the team to the Stanley Cup Final in his first year on the job. After spending two seasons in Anaheim, Babcock became the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings in 2005.
Babcock spent a decade with the Red Wings, guiding them to a pair of Stanley Cup Final appearances and winning it all in 2008. Babcock left Detroit after the 2014-15 season, and he compiled an overall record of 458-223-105 with the historic franchise.
Prior to the start of the 2015-16 campaign, the Maple Leafs hired Babcock to be their next head coach. He took Toronto to the postseason in three straight years from 2017 to 2019, but the team never reached the second round under his watch.
After the Maple Leafs fired Babcock on Nov. 20, 2019, he faced multiple accusations of player mistreatment. Former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore has criticized Babcock for his coaching style, and former Red Wings forward Johan Franzen accused Babcock of verbally abusing him. Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios backed up Franzen's account of the incidents.
In Toronto, Babcock allegedly made star forward Mitch Marner rank his teammates by their work ethic during his rookie season.
Babcock will replace former Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen, who went 62-85-16 in two seasons behind the bench. Babcock will be tasked with turning around a franchise that has won 15 playoff games in its entire history.