Tortorella on sitting Patrik Laine: ‘The last thing I want to do is bench a player’

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Patrik Laine has experienced his first benching four games into his Blue Jackets career.

After scoring three times in Columbus’ last two games, Laine sat for the final 26:19 of their 3-2 win over Carolina Monday night. Laine played only 11:14 and did not hit the ice again after midway through the second period.

John Tortorella would not reveal why he sat Laine, saying it will “stay in house” and there is “a number of things that come into play with [being benched.]”

Laine was acquired Jan. 23 from Winnipeg for Pierre-Luc Dubois, who requested a trade from Columbus and had a history of butting heads with Tortorella.

“It’s what I feel I need to do,” Tortorella said. “The last thing I want to do is bench a player. We’re just disjointed in all areas, both on an off the ice. It’s an easy thing to bench a player. It’s the last thing I want to do but if I think I need to do it then I need to do it.”

The Blue Jackets are 6-5-3 and sixth in the Central Division on points percentage (.536). They’ve won consecutive games only once this season. Laine, who has 143 goals in 309 career NHL games, was brought in to help the offense and power play and become the team’s newest star.

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Tortorella said he will chat with Laine Tuesday and continue hammering home how he wants the Blue Jackets to play.

“I think it’s part of a process of understanding our team concept, how we do things here, discipline of being a pro,” Tortorella said. “All that stuff comes into play. We’ve got six or seven new players here that we’re trying to filter in into a standard of play and culture that I am damn proud of [and] how we’ve gone about it the past three or four years. I’m proud of how we present ourselves, and it’s been a little bit of a struggle to get to that standard this year. Things happen in trying to get everybody there. 

“Through hell or high water, I’m going to try to find a way to get us to that tightness with a lot of new bodies coming in here and understanding the standard and the culture that we want here.”

Cam Atkinson knows what it’s like to be benched by Tortorella. The Blue Jackets forward understands the reasoning behind the decision and expects a positive result to come out of it for Laine.

“I sit next to him in the locker room, so we’ve chatted,” Atkinson said. “We’re a pretty open group. He knows. He’ll be the first to admit it. He just has to be better. Expect him to have a big game next game. That’s what we have to do, whether you’re a new guy, an old guy, we have to hold each other accountable. … We have to all buy in.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.