The discontent in the Columbus Blue Jackets‘ world just got elevated.
Star centre Ryan Johansen will be a healthy scratch for Thursday’s game in Arizona.
“He’s an important guy to our organization,” coach John Tortorella told The Columbus Dispatch. “This is a reset for him, in understanding what we’re looking for, not just in the points but in the play.
“You can’t look at it as a punishment. It’s part of the process for him.”
According to sportingcharts.com, Johansen leads all Blue Jackets in giveaways with 18, turning the puck over at a rate of 0.58 times per game.
“It’s probably been brewing for a while,” Johansen told Portzline. “In Dallas I made a few mistakes, [stuff] we’ve been going over as a team, things we have to erase from our game. Full responsibility. My fault.
“I’m going to use it as a positive and take this day to watch the guys and realize that I don’t want this to happen again.”
Johansen has scored 22 points for the under-performing Blue Jackets this season but was benched for a good portion of Monday’s 5-1 blowout loss to the Dallas Stars. His 11:03 of ice time was his lowest all season and nearly chopped in half from the 21:11 he skated Monday.
“That was the coach’s decision,” Tortorella told reporters after cutting the centre’s ice time. “No explanation. I just didn’t play him.”
Tortorella also benched Johansen in the third period of Oct. 22’s game in Minnesota and has called the player’s fitness into question. In his brief tenure behind the Columbus bench, Tortorella has also scratched Scott Hartnell and Fedor Tyutin.
After Monday’s loss, the Jackets held a players-only meeting.
“I’m not sure what went on in there and I won’t ask any questions,” Tortorella said. “I hope it was productive for them, because that’s key — it’s about them.”
The last-place Jackets have dropped five consecutive games and eight of their last nine. Johansen has no points, just two shots and is a minus-3 in his last three outings.
According to multiple reports, Columbus has listened to trade calls on Johansen this season.
The 23-year-old Vancouver native enjoyed a career season in 2014-15, putting up 71 points after a testy contract negation that significantly delayed his arrival to training camp in 2014.
Johansen’s contract, which carries a cap hit of $4 million, ends in July 2017, at which point he’ll be a restricted free agent.
Back in August, he found some humour in the recurring speculation that he and the Blue Jackets might not be long for each other.