Patrik Laine reunited with his Blue Jackets teammates in Vancouver on Monday, but did so with a heavy heart.
“It’s definitely been the hardest times of my life, for sure,” Laine said. “It’s been difficult dealing with it, and I’m still going through it. It’s still on my mind quite a bit, but this helps being here and have at least something to do during the day and something to look forward to.”
As Laine detailed in an article for The Players’ Tribune in 2018, his father suggested to a young Patrik that he switch from playing goaltender to being a skater. That move seemed to have paid off. Laine also described how his dad would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to watch his son’s games back home in Finland.
“He’s been my No. 1 fan and supporter always,” Laine said. “Not that my mom and sister and everyone else hasn’t been, but I think hockey was kind of our thing and our passion. I definitely wouldn’t be here without him. He always watched my games ever since I was a kid. … so it’s definitely tough. Losing my best friend, it’s tough.”
For Laine, getting back on the ice and seeing his teammates after such a rough last month was a good distraction from what he’s been through.
“I’m happy for him,” said Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen. “He’s been through a lot here, and a lot of times in these situations, [it’s helpful] just to be back with your second family and get out there and have some normalcy in your life. It’s great to see him out there smiling and having some fun and getting back at it.”
No firm return date
The Blue Jackets said the oblique strain would sideline Laine 4-6 weeks. Wednesday marks six weeks since his last game, but no timetable has been established for him to return.
Monday was a good first step, however, in more ways than one.
“It’s definitely fun,” Laine said. “It’s been almost six weeks since I’ve been with the team, so it was definitely fun. And after the times I’ve had lately, it’s always great to be around these guys.”