John Tortorella just can’t help himself when it comes to benching his young talent.
After gluing former Columbus Blue Jacket Pierre-Luc Dubois to the bench in response to a post-trade request lackadaisical shift — ultimately resulting in his trade to the Winnipeg Jets — newly acquired winger Patrik Laine has now found himself in a similar situation.
The key part of the trade package in exchange for Dubois, Laine was afforded just over 11 minutes of ice-time during Monday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, with seven of those minutes coming in the first period.
It was just his fourth game with the team.
While at first it seemed like the typical player benching we are far too familiar with due to some blown defensive coverage the Finnish winger is infamously known for, the true story seems to have revealed itself Tuesday night.
According to a report from The Columbus Dispatch, Laine was left watching his teammates from the sidelines because of an earlier altercation with a Blue Jackets assistant coach. It is unknown what exactly transpired, but the 22-year-old reportedly “mouthed off” to the CBJ coach, causing Tortorella to punish him with a classic Torts benching.
“It’s what I feel I need to do,” Tortorella said, trying to explain himself 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.”
This was Laine’s fourth game playing for the Blue Jackets, for whom he has already scored three goals. Considering they were heading into the final frame tied 2-2, he must have said something terrible to leave him hanging while his sniping services were needed.
Luckily for Tortorella, the other half of the return for Dubois came up clutch, as Jack Roslovic was able to break the draw and score the game-winning tally with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
This is not an uncommon occurrence for the 19th-year head coach. Columbus defenseman Dean Kukan was benched in the exact same game on Monday, and Tortorella famously left Roberto Luongo out of the 2014 Heritage Classic when he was coaching the Vancouver Canucks. Dubois, Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno are other notables to feel Torts’ wrath at one point or another during their time with the Jackets.
While their relationship has not started on the best foot, Tortorella is reportedly going to try and clear the air with Laine and explain his benching to move past the event. It would be some turn of fortune to walk away from Dubois, to then ostracize the main talent you got back in return.
The pair will have a chance to patch their feelings against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 11, as they look to stay in the mix for one of the playoff spots in the top-heavy Central Division.
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