Appearing on Montreal’s TSN 690, where he’s a regular panelist, Ward stated that former Red Wings coach Babcock was crossing a line when the new coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets was requesting to see personal family photos from the smartphones of his players.
A few more examples of why so many players dislike Mike Babcock via @NHL_AaronWard @BizNasty2point0 : No one owes Babcock anything right now – https://t.co/RMyd5uZm0t @TSN690 https://t.co/4zt618NuYY
— Mitch Melnick (@HunterZThompson) September 13, 2023
The Blue Jackets, through statements from Babcock, team captain Boone Jenner and star player Johnny Gaudreau are striving the make out that the unrest of this situation into nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.
Here’s why it isn’t.
Just as there’s a separation between church and state, for any workplace to operate smoothly and to function effectively, there must be a separation between coach and player, or boss and employee.
“I expected to have a division between me and my coaches, me and my bosses,” Ward explained.
Don’t we all?
Babcock On Power Trip
Ward sees this whole episode as nothing more than a power trip by Babcock, an early reminder to his players that he’s the one calling the shots.
“You’re going to put them in a highly uncomfortable position and see if they’re willing to succumb to your demands,” Ward said. “‘Hand me your phone. Let me see what’s on your photo roll.’ You could have all kinds of things on your photo roll, things that you don’t especially feel like sharing with the boss in your work environament.
@HunterZThompson now that I know it’s normal and my employer wants to see my photo library, I prepped this preview:
1. My dog is an idiot
2. Wife getting manhandled by a miniature goat
3. Doesn’t need explaining
4. Proving to my kids I’m not avoiding them, on an actual flight
— Aaron Ward (@NHL_AaronWard) September 13, 2023
“How does that go about? Do I hold my phone, or do you hold my phone? Do I get to choose what you see, or am I expected to be fully transparent with you, because I owe you something at this point? That’s the line he crossed. He’s decided to step way too far into people’s lives.
“The manner is which he’s doing it is so offside. If you want to know about someone, you ask questions. You show interest, you have empathy. You allow that person to reveal at their pace what they want you to know. To ever put someone that you’re the boss of in a situation and ask them to provide images of their life? No thanks. It’s not your place and you’ve so grossly overstepped.”
Did Blue Jackets Not Understand What They Were Getting?
Ward also wonders whether the Blue Jackets truly vetted this situation. Did they consider all of the fallout that could be coming their way prior to hiring Babcock? Revelations of how the longtime coach was bullying players were leading to his ouster from the NHL.
“From an organizational standpoint, I have no idea if this is anything they could have projected, or thought about possibly being something that could happen to them in bringing Babock in,” Ward said. “But if they didn’t, they didn’t really do their research. The idea that maybe as an organization they didn’t do their full homework and search what potentially could be brought to their doorstep.”
Ward said that he’s also been hearing from someone within the Columbus organization. What he’s being told is how uncomfortable the situation is currently within the team.
“They’re right now on pins and needles trying to figure out what he’s all about,” Ward said. “There’s a little bit of an uncomfortable feel of how to absorb him.”
Ward also believes that from Babcock’s standpoint, he has to recognize that his every move will be under intense scrutiny. Epsisodes such as this simply can’t he happening on his watch. It doesn’t matter how harmless the team tries to paint it out to be.
“He does not have room to mess up,” Ward said. “He’s still Mike Babcock with a lot of baggage. He does not have the leeway to have any interpersonal relationship issues with hockey players ever again.
“From an organizational standpoint this is going to be a tough training camp. Mike usually makes things about himself. It’s already about Mike and we haven’t even dropped the puck for rookie camp yet.”