The wagers were still being placed when news of Patrik Laine‘s apparent benching came into the forefront on Monday afternoon. Playing in just his fourth game with his new team, the 22-year-old Finnish winger seemingly fell into the ever-growing doghouse of his new head coach, John Tortorella. To many, it seemed inevitable, and to some it may have even happened too late.
“It’s what I feel I need to do,” Tortorella said post-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.”
After coming off the ice at the 6:19 mark of the second period, Laine did not see the ice again for the duration of the game, spending the final 26:19 nailed to the home team’s bench in the Blue Jackets’ 3-2 victory over Carolina – a game in which fellow tradee Jack Roslovic scored the game-winner.
“If that kind of stuff happens, you deserve to get benched. That’s just the way it is,” Laine told reporters on Wednesday. “Now we’re past that and just trying to focus on the right things. I always play with passion. Sometimes you say things you don’t want to say. That’s going to happen sometimes but you just got to talk about it and move on.”
Despite much speculation on Laine’s poor back-checking habits as the main culprit for his punishment, information has been made public that a dispute between the newcomer and a member of the coaching staff was the real cause for concern in the eyes of Tortorella.
“We’re by it and we’re getting to play Chicago. We’re done with it…everything’s fine, guys,” Torts said on Wednesday. “I don’t like the light that he’s been shed in…he’s a competitor and he’s going to be a huge part of this team.”
“This is the road you take in trying to understand one another,” he added. “All we can do is control our room, and we’re good here. Patty cares. He’s a competitor. He’s a really good player, and is going to be a big part of this team. This kid is a good kid”
Although not getting into specifics, Laine did confirm that what led to his benching was something he did/said off the ice.
“I think that’s fair from the coach that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you do something, you’ll get benched,” Laine said. “So that’s great to see for me. You don’t want to be the guy who’s getting benched, but now I’ve seen it myself that it doesn’t matter who you are or how well you have done, you can get benched.”
But according to the youngster, it has been a learning experience and hasn’t changed his outlook on the city of Columbus and his playing career as a Blue Jackets forward.
“We’ve moved on,” he said. “We’ve talked about it, and it’s going to stay in the room. All good now. I don’t think there will be any issues there. I’ve loved my time here so far and it’s gonna get better for sure so I don’t think it’s going to have that effect on my plans for the future.”
Laine, who is now up to three goals in four games, has already been overshadowed by the play of his longtime teammate Jack Roslovic. With two goals and six points in six games, Roslovic knows Laine will quickly recovery following this altercation.
“I know he’s probably going to be one of the best players the next game, if not the best,” Roslovic said of Laine. “He’s gonna bounce back hard and I think they’ll squash whatever problem they have and it’ll be behind us.”
“Torts expects us to play as hard as we can,” Atkinson said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, and I think everyone knows that. If you’re not giving 100% and looking like you’re trying he’s going to sit you.”
“This is who we are. This is what we are as a team,” Foligno said. “I think Patty understands it, and now has gotten a good dose of who we are and is ready to jump in and be a part of it.”
Coach Tortorella has confirmed that Laine will suit up against the Blackhawks on Thursday in the 7:00 PM showdown with his former Central Division rival.