Laine, Blue Jackets put benching behind them


Patrik Laine said he has moved on from being benched in the Columbus Blue Jackets game Monday and that he does not think the situation will affect his long-term future in Columbus.

“No, absolutely not,” the forward said after practice Wednesday. “I don’t think there’s going to be issues there. I’ve loved my time here so far and it’s going to get better for sure. I don’t think it’s going to have [any] effect to my plans for the future.” 

Coach John Tortorella said Laine will be in the lineup when the Blue Jackets visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, FS-O, NHL.TV).

Laine, who did not play the final 26:19 of Columbus’ 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday, said he understood Tortorella’s decision. 

“I guess that if … stuff happens, like you deserve to get benched, I guess,” Laine said. “That’s just the way it is. I feel like I was playing decent hockey and developing my game every game but now we’re past that and just trying to focus on the right things and focus on Chicago tomorrow.

“I think that’s fair from the coach that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you do something, you’ll get benched. So that’s great to see for me. You don’t want to be the guy who’s getting benched, but now I’ve seen it myself that it doesn’t matter who you are or how well you have done, you can get benched.”

Laine and forward Jack Roslovic were acquired by the Blue Jackets in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets for forward Pierre-Luc Dubois on Jan. 23, two days after Dubois was benched in his final game with Columbus. 

Laine has scored three goals in four games with the Blue Jackets; he scored three points (two goals, one assist) in his only game with the Jets this season before being traded. The No. 2 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft has scored 253 points (143 goals, 110 assists) in 310 games through five seasons, and 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Video: CAR@CBJ: Laine hammers home heavy slap shot for PPG

He can become a restricted free agent after this season. 

Tortorella and the players were not available to the media Tuesday, which was a day off for Columbus, but the coach said Wednesday that the Blue Jackets had moved on from the situation.

“We’re by it,” Tortorella said. “We’re by it and we’re getting ready to play Chicago. We’re done with it.”

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Laine “mouthed off” to a Blue Jackets assistant and that it was the reason for the benching. 

Tortorella declined to comment further but made clear that the decision to bench Laine was not because of something that happened on the ice. 

“I told you I wouldn’t talk about this,” he said. “But I need to say one last thing on it, which I think is totally unfair to [Laine], is some of the situation where people are writing he didn’t work hard enough and the intensity or bad mistakes. … As I told [the media] after the game, it had nothing to do with him being on the ice.

“I don’t think [Laine] should be put in that shade of light that he was lazy or didn’t work hard enough because that’s not what this kid’s about. We know he’s a great competitor and he’s a really good player. He’s going to be a big part of our team here.”

Laine also objected to characterizations about his play. 

“I don’t think it’s fair to talk about that I’m not playing hard enough,” he said, “because if they talk about that I don’t think they’ve watched any of my games. I always play with passion, and sometimes you say things you don’t want to say and that’s going to happen sometimes, and you’ve just got to talk about it and move on.”

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