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New Blue Jackets coach Mike Babcock denies report that he invaded players' privacy

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Mike Babcock
Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Mike Babcock

Columbus Blue Jackets Head Coach Mike Babcock said he was trying to get to know players better when he asked them to share photos on their phones and “there was absolutely nothing more to it than that.”

Former NHL player and analyst Paul Bissonnette questioned whether Babcock asking to see the players' cell phone photos was legal during an episode of Barstool Sports' podcast "Spittin’ Chiclets." Bissonnette said he heard about the incident in a text from a player.

“He gets to Columbus and one of the first things he does is he calls in Boone Jenner, the captain of the team, and he says, ‘Let me see the photos in your phone, I want to know the kind of person you are,’” Bissonnette said in the podcast.

Babcock said in a statement released by the team that the podcast was a “gross misrepresentation of those meetings and extremely offensive.”

“These meetings have been very important and beneficial, not only for me, but for our players and staff as well,” Babcock said.

Boone Jenner said in a statement said that when Babcock asked if he had any pictures of his family, he was happy to share them, and that Babcock also shared pictures of his family.

“I thought it was a great first meeting and a good way for us to start to build a relationship. To have this blown out of proportion is truly disappointing,” Jenner said.

The Columbus Blue Jackets hired Babcock on July 1 with a two-year contract through the 2024-2025 National Hockey League season. He replaced head coach Brad Larsen.

Babcock, 60, has faced allegations of “bullying” from players before, according to reports. He was fired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs in November 2019.

The Blue Jackets' 2023-2024 season starts Oct. 12 at home against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Allie Vugrincic is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She comes to Columbus from her hometown of Warren, Ohio, where she was a reporter, features writer and photographer for four years at the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator newspapers.