Since John Tortorella took over for Todd Richards in Columbus, star center Ryan Johnansen has been told he’s out of shape, sent away from the club for a few games (to deal with a mystery illness) and demoted to the fourth line.
Now, he’s been benched.
Johansen didn’t play a single shift in the third period of Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to Dallas, and finished with a season-low 11:03 TOI.
“That was coach’s decision,” Tortorella explained, per the club website. “No explanation. I just didn’t play him.”
Knee-jerk reactions to this focused largely on Tortorella, because it’s Tortorella.
But for further context, do consider what the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline wrote about Johansen’s “effort.”
Johansen played a lethargic first two periods. Many of his passes were way off-line, and there were several neutral-zone turnovers and failed clearing attempts.
I’ve seen suburbanites skate harder on the Columbus Zoo’s holiday pond.
I’ve mentioned this a few times, but it bears repeating — Johansen is a client of agent Kurt Overhardt. Some of Overhardt’s other clients include Kyle Turris (who forced a trade out of Arizona) and Ryan Kesler (who reportedly forced a trade from Vancouver, which Overhardt later denied).
Knowing that, now consider the existing contention between the Johansen camp and Columbus prior to the Tortorella hire — Johansen’s now-infamous holdout, which cost him all of the 2014 preseason.
Doesn’t this situation sound like one that’ll end with a “fresh start?”