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Vincent explains benching Gaudreau, Laine: I coach a team, not individuals

Ben Jackson / National Hockey League / Getty

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Pascal Vincent had a simple explanation for why Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine didn't see the ice down the stretch in a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.

In the late stages of the defeat, Vincent favored his second line of Dmitri Voronkov, Adam Fantilli, and Kirill Marchenko over the top unit that normally features the two aforementioned talents.

"I coach a team," Vincent said postgame, according to The Athletic's Aaron Portzline. "I don't coach individuals. Those guys were going, they're going to play. That's what we've been doing all year.

"Once the game starts, we have 18 guys and two goalies. Tonight, it was those guys that were going, and that's why they were on the ice."

When asked if the opposite held true for Gaudreau and Laine, Vincent implied the affirmative.

"Asking that question is answering that question," the Columbus bench boss said.

Vincent sat Laine for the final 9:53 and held Gaudreau out for the last 6:15.

Gaudreau and Laine were both held pointless in the contest, playing 14:42 and 12:36, respectively. Both players were on the ice when Lawson Crouse buried the Coyotes' second goal in a 28-second span to go up 3-1 in the third period. Laine finished the loss with no shots on goal, and Gaudreau registered only two.

Jackets defenseman Damon Severson scored to make it 3-2 with 1:57 remaining, but Columbus couldn't complete the comeback.

Vincent also benched Gaudreau for the final 16 minutes of the Blue Jackets' 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Nov. 4. He said at the time that "it's not about your name, it's about what's in front of your jersey and who we believe are going to give us a chance to win."

Gaudreau is Columbus' highest-paid player with a cap hit of $9.75 million through 2028-29. Laine is the Jackets' third-highest-paid player and second-highest-paid forward at $8.7 million through 2025-26.

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