Just four games into his tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets, winger Patrik Laine appears to have already landed in John Tortorella’s doghouse.
Laine was benched for the third period of Monday’s 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes after skating 11:14 in the first two frames. After the game, Tortorella was asked about his decision to sit the young star down.
“That’s gonna stay in house,” Tortorella told reporters. “It wasn’t because of the missed assignment. There’s a number of things that come into play with that. That will stay in the locker room. It’s what I feel I need to do … Honestly, that’s the last thing I want to do but if I think I need to do it then I need to do it.”
On Jan. 21, ex-Blue Jackets centre Pierre-Luc Dubois was benched in the first period by Tortorella after just 3:55 of ice time against Tampa Bay.
“It’s up to the player to show me,” Tortorella said then, regarding Dubois. “If you play the proper way, you’re going to get out there.”
Tortorella’s reference to a “missed assignment” was not immediately clear. Blue Jackets defenceman Dean Kukan was also benched for the third period.
Dubois’s interest in being traded was already public by this point. Two days after being benched, Dubois was sent to the Winnipeg Jets, with Laine and Jack Roslovic coming back the other way.
And after scoring three goals in his first three games with Columbus, Laine spent a sizable chunk of Game 4 riding the bench.
“I’m sure (Laine) and I will take and I know … again, I know you think it’s a big thing,” Tortorella said. “I think it’s part of a process of understanding our team concept, how we do things here, the discipline of being a pro, all that stuff comes into play.
“I’m still learning — we have I think six or seven new players here that we are trying to filter into a standard of play and culture that I am damn proud of, how we’ve gone about it the last three-to-four years. I’m proud of how we present ourselves. And it’s been a little bit of a struggle to get to that standard this year, and things happen in trying to get everybody there.
“Through hell or high water, I am going to try to find a way to get us to that tightness with a lot of new bodies coming in here and understanding the standard and the culture that we want here.”