Patrik Laine benched after reported verbal dispute with assistant coach


Patrik Laine reportedly “mouthed off” to a Blue Jackets assistant coach Monday night, which resulted in the forward being benched for the final 26:19 of the game.

According to Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch and Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, Laine said something to an unnamed assistant, prompting Tortorella to sit his new star after only playing 11:14 during the game.

Brad Larsen works with the Blue Jackets forwards, while Brad Shaw handles the defense. They are the only assistant on the bench with head coach John Tortorella during games.

Tortorella would not reveal after their 3-2 win over Carolina why Laine watched most of the game, only saying it was not because of a defensive lapse.

[MORE: NHL Power Rankings: Pastrnak’s return helps Bruins climb to top spot]

“There’s a number of things that come into play with that. That’ll stay in the locker room,” he said. “It’s what I feel I need to do. 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 were off on Tuesday, but Tortorella did say he would discuss the situation with Laine.

Laine has five goals and six points this season, with three of those goals coming post trade. He 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.

“He’ll be the first to admit he just has to be better,” said forward Cam Atkinson. “It’s plain and simple, and he knows it. That’s what we have to do, whether you’re a new guy, an old guy, we have to hold each other accountable. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you play, we have to all buy in.”

UPDATE: Laine and Tortorella spoke after Wednesday’s skate. “We’ve moved on. We’ve talked about it,” said Laine, who added he deserved to be benched. “It’s gonna stay in the room. All good now. Sometimes you say things you don’t want to say. We’ve talked about it and moved on.”

“We’re by it,” said Tortorella.


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

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

tampa bay lightning
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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

Rasmus Sandin
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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.