It’s been a tumultuous couple of summers for Patrik Laine. After initial trade rumours took flight during the 2019 offseason, those fairy tales swirled and twirled into a tangled web, ultimately leading to Laine’s agent Mike Liut publicly announcing that the talented 22-year-old would be better off dealt from the Winnipeg Jets this past October.
Despite the vast uncertainty, Laine was contractually obligated to attend Jets training camp from the Iceplex this week. With one year remaining on his $6.75 million/year contract, the sharp-shooting forward spoke with media following his on-ice session Monday. And it didn’t take long for his current whereabouts and wishes to be addressed.
“Well, I’m here aren’t I?” Laine responded when asked about the offseason trade request. “That’s the only thing I’m worried about right now. I’m not in charge of what other people are saying. I don’t worry about that stuff. Even Wayne Gretzky got traded. People get traded all the time. It’s part of the game you need to be aware of. Right now I’m just worried about working hard here, being the best player I can be and helping these other guys be at their best. That’s the only thing I’m worried about right now.”
When questioned about the intentions of his agent, Laine seemed perplexed as to why Liut would have made those comments.
“I don’t pay attention to that stuff,” Laine hinted. “That’s just one of those things. I’m just worried about this moment and I’m here and just working hard. I didn’t say it. I’m just here. I just want to play. I’m just worried about working hard, doing my job, which is trying to be the best player I can be. And I’m not worried about all the talk and all the speculation, that kind of stuff. It’s not my job to worry about that. I’m here. I’m excited to play and that’s the only thing I care about honestly.”
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Clearly, the 22-year-old Finnish product is ready to move on from the uncertainty surrounding the offseason. But whether a trade does or does not occur in the coming months, Laine says it is not something he wants to focus on at this point.
“That’s not something I think about,” he said. “I only think about what’s going on today. I don’t worry about tomorrow. I’m excited to play. I’m in good shape. I’m going to be a new player this year. And just want to play well this year. That’s going to be best for both parties. What happens in the future, that’s not even my call. I’m here, I’m playing well, going to work hard every night and that’s all I can do.”
In an earlier attempt to help out the mentally exhausted winger, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff traded for Vegas Golden Knights’ centreman Paul Stastny, who earlier clicked with Laine when the team acquired the veteran forward prior to its lengthy 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff run. Bringing Stastny back into the fold has certainly given the disgruntled forward a change in scenery.
“I think Paul’s an awesome player,” Laine said. “We had some really good games when he was here and obviously a really good addition to our top-six. With him and KC (Kyle Connor) on the other side, I think we can do some real damage and I’m excited to get the season going and see what we can do. I think we have good combinations that have worked in the past. I think it’ll be an exciting year. And today’s practice, I think we had some good combos and had a really good practice so just looking forward to tomorrow.”
On his expectations for the coming 2020-21 season, Laine joked that he hopes to at least score one goal, but “hopefully more than one”.
“Obviously Helle (Connor Hellebuyck) won the Vezina, so that was a big part of our defence last year, but we can be better,” he reminisced. “We had some good additions during the off-season, and that can really help us with that. Really excited for the season. We can be a really, really good team and hopefully win something big. You can always have the best year of your career as a young, kind of young guy, you always want to have a good season. I think the most pressure is coming from myself, from inside of me, to want to be the best. That’s the thing that pushes me forward every day. Obviously, Paul’s going to help me with that, KC on the other side, I think we can do something really, really good this year. Just really excited.”