Blue Jackets’ John Tortorella benched Patrik Laine after winger allegedly ‘mouthed off’ to assistant coach

It was one of the hot topics in the NHL on Tuesday, a day after Patrik Laine was benched for the final 26-plus minutes of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 3-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Many observers pointed to a couple of blown defensive coverages, including one on Laine’s final shift in the second period that led to a game-tying goal. But The Columbus Dispatch has learned that wasn’t the reason the 22-year-old left wing was held out the final 6:19 of that period and the entire third.

A person with knowledge of the situation said Laine “mouthed off” to one of the Blue Jackets’ assistant coaches, and another person with knowledge of the situation confirmed that account. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the incident. It’s unknown what Laine said, or whom he said it to, but whatever it was prompted head coach John Tortorella to keep the team’s newly acquired star stuck to the bench in a 2-2 game.

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen declined to comment.

“That’s gonna stay in-house,” Tortorella said after the game, when asked about Laine’s exclusion from the rest of the contest. “I know you guys are going to try to work me on that. It wasn’t because of the missed assignment. There’s a number of things that come into play with that. That will stay in the locker room.”

Patrik Laine was benched for the final 26-plus minutes of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Tortorella took a lot of heat on social media Monday for the length of the corrective measure, especially in a tight game. It didn’t help his cause that Laine was a huge part of a blockbuster trade on Jan. 23 that sent former Blue Jackets No. 1 center Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets.

Laine’s interaction with the Jackets’ assistant coach, which reportedly happened off the ice, puts a new spin on the situation. The game was just the fourth for Laine with Columbus.

“It’s what I feel I need to do,” Tortorella said, continuing his explanation after the game. “The last thing I want to do is bench a player. But … we’re just disjointed in all areas – quite honestly, on and off the ice. It’s an easy thing to bench a player. Honestly, that’s the last thing I want to do, but if I think I need to do it, then I need to do it.”

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Tortorella, who also benched defenseman Dean Kukan in the game for poor play, said he planned to speak with Laine to clear the air on why he was benched.

Jack Roslovic was also part of the trade with Winnipeg and scored the winner Monday against the Hurricanes late in the third period on a beautiful tally in which he reversed the puck between his legs, kicked it with his left skate to split two defensemen and scored with a backhand shot.

“Well, I know he’s probably going to be one of the best players the next game, if not the best,” Roslovic said when asked about Laine being benched. “He’s a tough kid. He’s gonna bounce back hard and I think they’ll squash whatever they have (that’s an issue) and it’ll be behind us.”

Laine already has three goals for the Blue Jackets, including two Sunday in a 6-5 loss to the Hurricanes, but there might now some off-ice reckoning that must be done.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: John Tortorella benched Patrik Laine for mouthing off to CBJ assistant

Published: 2021-02-10 01:38:05

Tags: #Blue #Jackets #John #Tortorella #benched #Patrik #Laine #winger #allegedly #mouthed #assistant #coach

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