When you have been in the hockey world for three decades in the hope of one day having the chance to lead an NHL team, you jump at the opportunity when it presents itself. And this, whatever the circumstances.
• Read also: Blue jackets : Mike Bab___ replaced by Pascal Vincent
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This is the decision that Pascal Vincent made in recent days when Jarmo Kekalainen asked him to replace Mike Bab___ as head coach of the Columbus Blues Jackets. Remember that Bab___ resigned on Saturday, a few days after his controversial methods were decried by the podcast Chiclets that spit.
“The last few days have been difficult,” admitted the 51-year-old hockey player during a press briefing held in Columbus and rebroadcast on the Blue Jackets website. But what do you do when you face adversity as an individual, as a coach and as a team? You face it and move forward. This is what we are going to do. »
Hired as associate coach with Brad Larsen, before the 2021-2022 season, the former Manitoba Moose driver quickly developed a feeling of belonging to the organization. The tumult in which she has been immersed in recent days has shaken her a little.
“It was difficult,” he repeated. I have been working towards becoming an NHL head coach for 30 years. It was a long process. But I’m a team guy and I care about people. So watching the team go through this has not been easy. »
Martin Chevalier / JdeM
Since the Blue Jackets training camp begins Thursday, Vincent won’t have much time to get the machine running again. But he assures that it will not be a colossal task. After all, he worked all summer with Bab___ and the other assistant coaches to establish structure and strategies. Just because Bab___ has questionable methods doesn’t mean he’s lost the ideas that allowed him to win the Stanley Cup and lead Canada to an Olympic gold medal in Sochi.
“Mike is a good coach. We met several times over the summer. “We set up several scenarios on the playing system that we wanted to apply and on the state of mind in which we wanted to start the season,” said Vincent, for whom relations have always been cordial with Bab___. There will be some changes, but I will keep a lot of what we have established. »
Vincent believes that knowing the players well will also help him in this quick turnaround. He also does not believe that the events of recent days will create coldness or dissension within the group.
“I know the guys and I know they all care about the team. They worked hard this summer. They deserve to be ready, Vincent said. Besides, my door has always been open to my players. This sometimes leads to difficult discussions. But when players know you care about their well-being, it removes any gray areas. »
Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun
“Pascal is ready”
Due to this turn of events, many argue that Kekalainen should have given Vincent the job during the initial hiring process. An error that the general manager of the Blue Jackets recognized.
“I thought Mike Bab___ deserved another chance to lead in the NHL. It was a mistake and I take full responsibility for it,” said the Finn.
“Pascal is ready. He was already a serious candidate for this position. We are lucky to have him to lead our team,” he added.
Vincent will now have two seasons to help this young team progress. The Jackets haven’t made the playoffs since 2020. Last year, they finished 31e rank in the general classification.
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