Blue Jackets bench Pierre-Luc Dubois after first period vs. Lightning

Following the decision to bench Pierre-Luc Dubois for most of the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella fields questions regarding the situation. Courtesy: Blue Jackets

The ongoing drama between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pierre-Luc Dubois is starting to reach a new level.

During Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the centre played 3:55 of total ice time in the first period then spent the entire second and third period, plus overtime, on the bench.

“It’s up to the player to show me,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said after the game when asked about why Dubois didn’t play. “If you play the proper way, you’re going to get out there.”

Dubois declined to speak to reporters after the game.

The disgruntled centre requested a trade after agreeing to a two-year, $10 million contract at the start of training camp. This is not the first time Dubois has seen a decline in playing time since making it known he wanted to be moved.

Against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, Dubois played a season-low 15:22 of ice time and only saw one regular shift in the second period. The 22-year-old ended up scoring the game-winning goal in the third period.

At the time, Tortorella didn’t make a big deal about leaving Dubois on the bench.

“You guys are really dissecting this benching and sitting,” Tortorella said after Monday’s game. “I guess I benched Max [Domi] the other night, you said. Slow down, boys. You’ll know when I bench someone. I have to make decisions when the game is being played, when I think someone is going at certain times. But don’t try to manifest something as far as the benching. That’s all part of a three-period hockey game.”

The 22-year-old said Tortorella didn’t give him a reason for the decline in ice time.

Tortorella opened up on the situation back on Jan. 13, saying Dubois spoke with his teammates about wanting to be traded out of Columbus but didn’t make it clear why he wants to be moved.

“He wants out,” Tortorella said on 97.1 The Fan’s Rothman and Ice in Columbus. “(Dubois) hasn’t given a reason why he wants to leave. He should get in front of it. That’s the way I think you should go about your business, and be the best team you can be.

“He needs to continue to do the things to help this team win and be the best teammate he can be, or I’m not sure where it goes. It’s a situation and we’ll go to it day by day.”

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote in a recent 31 Thoughts column that the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets are among the pursuers for Dubois. In 234 career games with the Blue Jackets, the third-overall pick from the 2016 NHL Draft has 65 goals and 158 points.

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