It was one of the hot topics in the NHL on Tuesday, a day after Patrik Laine benched for the final 26-plus minutes of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 3-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Many observers pointed to a couple of blown defensive coverages, including one on Laine’s final shift in the second period that led to a game-tying goal.
But The Columbus Dispatch has learned that wasn’t the reason the 22-year-old left wing held out the final 6:19 of that period.
A person with knowledge of the situation said Patrik Laine “mouthed off” to one of the Blue Jackets’ assistant coaches, and another person with knowledge of the situation confirmed that account.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the incident. It unknown what Laine said, or whom he said it to, but whatever.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen declined to comment.
“That’s gonna stay in-house,” Tortorella said after the game, when asked about Laine’s exclusion from the rest of the contest. “I know you guys are going to try to work me on that.
It wasn’t because of the missed assignment. There’s a number of things that come into play with that. That will stay in the locker room.”
Tortorella took a lot of heat on social media Monday for the length of the corrective measure, especially in a tight game. It didn’t help his cause that Laine was a huge part of a blockbuster trade on Jan. 23 that sent former Blue Jackets No. 1 center Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets.
Laine’s interaction with the Jackets’ assistant coach, which reportedly happened off the ice, puts a new spin on the situation. The game was just the fourth for Laine with Columbus UFA.
“It’s what I feel I need to do,” Tortorella said, continuing his explanation after the game. “The last thing I want to do is bench a player. But we just disjointed in all areas – quite honestly, on and off the ice. It’s an easy thing to bench a player.”