Report: Jackets benched Laine after disrespectful comment toward Larsen
Patrik Laine was benched during his fourth game with the Columbus Blue Jackets after being heard making a disrespectful comment toward then-assistant coach Brad Larsen, according to Brian Hedger of The Columbus Dispatch.
The 23-year-old sat out for nearly half of the Jackets' 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 8. His last shift came with just over six minutes remaining in the second period, and he missed all of the final frame.
Former head coach John Tortorella didn't get into the specifics of the reason for the benching at the time, instead emphasizing that all Blue Jackets players need to understand the "culture."
Tortorella and the Jackets agreed to part ways at the end of the season, with Larsen taking his place to become a first-time NHL head coach.
Though Larsen declined to comment about whether he's patched up his relationship with Laine, a source told Hedger the incident was dealt with swiftly.
In January, the Winnipeg Jets traded Laine and center Jack Roslovic to the Jackets for star forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third-round pick in 2022. Laine then produced just 10 goals and 11 assists over 45 games with the Jackets, a far cry from the Finnish sniper's typical output. He's enjoyed 30-plus goal seasons three times during his young career.
Laine shouldered the blame for his offensive woes in May, but in a recent interview with Finnish publication Aamulehti, he seems to have changed his tune.
"Tortorella did not give freedom to anyone. Forwards want to create offensively," Laine said, as translated by The Columbus Dispatch.
“I do not even want to be like everyone else," he continued. "I am who I am and I do things my way. Everyone should be given the opportunity to be themselves. Then, of course, you have to play within the team's system. I think it’s stupid not to use my potential."
Laine added that he understands the need for a "tight system," and the winger did as he was told in Tortorella's scheme, which prioritized responsible two-way play.
He's a pending restricted free agent.
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