Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine didn’t sugarcoat his emotions when asked on Tuesday about being a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career in Sunday's loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Over my career, it’s probably the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to me,” Laine told reporters Tuesday morning. “I’m not happy about that. They know that. It is what it is. It’s over and done.”
It’s been a weird year for Laine, who has just three points in nine games this season.
The Finnish sniper started 2023-24 in foreign territory when he lined up at center. Laine never looked comfortable down the middle during his four-game stint and he was eventually shifted back to the wing once he returned from an upper-body injury, which sidelined him for eight games. Laine continued to struggle on the wing, recording one point and a minus-4 rating in five games before being healthy-scratched.
While it’s shocking to see a prolific scorer get taken out of the lineup, the writing was on the wall heading into Sunday’s contest after Laine averaged 12:29 minutes of ice time in the previous two games. When the Blue Jackets faced off against the Coyotes on Thursday, Laine was benched for the final 9:53 of the game.
"I coach a team," Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent said on Thursday, 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.”
Vincent tried to frame Sunday’s scratching as a reset for Laine.
"Right now I think Patty needs to take a deep breath, go back to the working lab and get his touches back, get his shot back, and get his confidence back so he can be the Patrik Laine we know all know he can be,” Vincent told reporters.
The reality is, we haven’t seen the real Laine in quite some time. In his first four seasons in the league, he recorded the seventh-most goals of any NHL player (138) and established himself as must-watch TV with the Winnipeg Jets. Since arriving in Columbus, though, Laine has recorded 60 goals in his last 165 games.
Laine lined up on the second-line right wing alongside Adam Fantilli and Dmitri Voronkov during Tuesday's practice. Hopefully for the Blue Jackets — who are in the middle of a nine-game losing streak — the healthy scratch lights a fire under Laine.
Columbus (4-11-4) could use all the positive developments it can get, as negativity has compounded all year. The most recent blow has defenseman Damon Severson on the shelf for the next six weeks with an oblique injury.