Patrik Laine said he deserved to be benched during Monday’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, but declined to elaborate why.
“If that kind of stuff happens, you deserve to get benched. That’s just the way it is,” Laine said Wednesday. “Now we’re past that and just trying to focus on the right things.”
Laine didn’t see the ice for the final 26 minutes of Monday’s game, notable considering it was only his fourth game with Columbus since being acquired in a blockbuster trade in late January.
While no reason was immediately given for why Laine was benched, Brian Hedger of The Columbus Dispatch and Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that it came after Laine “verbally disrespected” a member of the coaching staff.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Laine didn’t specifically say why he was benched but hinted that it was related to something he said.
“I always play with passion. Sometimes you say things you don’t want to say,” Laine said. “That’s going to happen sometimes but you just got to talk about it and move on."
Head coach John Tortorella re-affirmed Wednesday that the incident would remain in the team’s room and that he and Laine had already talked about it. The two were spotted chatting at one point during a pause in practice Wednesday morning.
“I think you guys make a little more out of it than we do quite honestly. We just go about our business and that’s all we’ve done,” Tortorella said Wednesday. “This isn’t a situation that stayed around too much after the game… We’ve moved by it.”
This isn't the first time Tortorella has resorted to this tactic this season. In January, disgruntled centre Pierre-Luc Dubois was benched after only five shifts in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Dubois was traded to Winnipeg 48 hours later in the blockbuster that saw Laine and Jack Roslovic join Columbus.
With Laine scheduled to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, he was asked if the benching would have any impact on how he would approach his contract negotiation. Laine said it would not.
“I don’t think there will be any issues there,” Laine said. “I’ve loved my time here so far and it’s gonna get better for sure so I don’t think it’s going to have (any) effect on my plans for the future.”