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.
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“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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.