The Columbus Blue Jackets are sifting through a number of potential coaching candidates. While the search for a new bench boss continues, one polarizing name just won’t go away.

There is “lots of smoke” between the Blue Jackets and former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, according to NHL insider Frank Seravalli. Seravalli went on to qualify Babcock’s fit in Columbus as “fascinating.”

“I think they’ve been waffling on a triumvirate of Mike Babcock, Peter Laviolette, and Pascal Vincent,” Seravalli said in a clip from the DFO Rundown on Monday. “It’s a fascinating sort of spot that they’re in.”

Babcock is a very recognizable name to hockey fans for good and bad reasons. The 60-year-old Saskatoon native began his NHL career coaching the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2002. He led the Mighty Ducks to the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, though they lost to the New Jersey Devils.

Following the NHL’s lockout in 2005, Babcock moved on. He joined the Detroit Red Wings and remained their head coach until leaving for the Maple Leafs in 2015. The 60-year-old bench boss won a Stanley Cup in Hockeytown and left the team as the winningest coach in franchise history.

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Babcock was highly sought after following the 2015 season, and many expected him to remain coach of the Maple Leafs for a long time. However, his time with the team ended in 2019 following a losing streak. During that losing streak, allegations of a toxic work environment and mistreatment of players surfaced.

Stories began circulating in the days following his departure from Toronto. Former Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios recalled Babcock initially benching him in the 2009 Winter Classic specifically because Chicago was his hometown.

Former Red Wings forward Johan Franzen came out and praised Babcock as a coach. However, he had scathing words for Mike Babcock as a person. “As a coach, he is extremely accurate and prepared,” Franzen said. “But then he’s a terrible person, the worst person I’ve ever met.”

Whether the Blue Jackets hire Babcock remains to be seen. However, it is quite the decision to interview him either way. It is certainly going to be interesting to see how the team reconciles his controversial past with his successful track record.