More skeletons from Mike Babcock’s closet are coming to light in the aftermath of his resignation.
Three days after Mike Babcock stepped down as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl detailed how difficult Babcock made life for him in an article titled “Seventh Defensemen,” which he published on a Czechia news site titled Bez Frazi.
While Kindl, who spent parts of nine seasons in the Detroit Red Wings organization, lauded some of Babcock’s coaching abilities — such as his game-day preparation — he didn’t shy away from explaining just how miserable Babcock made life for him.
“I wasn't his favorite player from the beginning, and even though (Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland) liked me, Babcock seemed to constantly test what I could handle and he let me know that he didn’t like me as a player,” Kindl wrote. “I couldn’t stand him as a person.”
The 36-year-old retired defenseman recounted sequences where Babcock ostracized him.
“I saw him making jokes with the others, but with me, he barely exchanged a few words,” Kindl said. “If he did, it was to humiliate me. For example, he once put me on the right side of the defense, and I was looking at the lineup in disbelief. He was just passing by and heard me, so he looked at the lineup and said, 'Yeah, you're on the right side. You have trouble playing on the left, and I'm making it harder for you, right?'"
Kindl reinforced what many have alleged about Babcock, which is that if you were in his doghouse, he made life particularly difficult for you, something Kindl says was universally known throughout the organization.
In his first game facing off against Babcock after he left Detroit, Kindl scored the overtime-winning goal. While he says that in of itself was gratifying, nothing compared to the vindication he received afterward from several members of the Red Wings organization.
“They knew how hard it was under Babcock. That evening, I received a lot of messages from people all over the club, from chefs, guys who parked our cars, facility personnel, and from the people who worked in offices. They all congratulated me,” Kindl said.
Kindl’s testimony is far from the only criticism Babcock has received from his time in Detroit. Johan Franzen, who won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008, called Babcock the worst person he's ever met. During a 2019 interview with the Spittin' Chiclets podcast, Red Wings star Chris Chelios provided some context as to what would make Franzen say such a statement.
“[Franzen] was hurt at the time of the playoffs, we lost to Nashville...and some of the things he said to him on the bench,” Chelios explained. “I don’t know what he said to him behind closed doors — but he was blatantly verbally assaulting him during the game.
“It got to the point for Johan — no one really knew he was suffering with the concussion and depression — he just broke down and had a nervous breakdown. Not only on the bench but after the game, into the rooms in Nashville. That was probably the worst thing that I’ve ever seen,” Chelios said.