John Tortorella is at it again.
During a tight game against the Florida Panthers heading late into regulation, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine was nowhere to be found. Despite earning an assist and scoring a power-play goal just a few minutes into the final frame, the winger was kept off the ice as his team went on to lose 5-4 in overtime.
Laine, who did not play the final 6:53 of regulation and the entirety of overtime, was clearly frustrated during his postgame availability.
"I thought I was playing good, but I guess I thought wrong," said Laine, who broke his seven-game pointless drought.
Tortorella has been here before — and not too long ago. His tumultuous relationship with now Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois reached the point of no return after an aggressive benching in a January game against Tampa that saw the pivot play just 3:55. That was his final game in Columbus, as Dubois was dealt to Winnipeg two days later in the trade that brought Laine to Columbus. It didn't take long for Laine to get the Torts treatment upon his arrival in Ohio, as he was benched for the final 26:19 in just his fourth game with the team.
"At that point in time, that's just the way it worked out," Tortorella said Thursday, justifying the shortening of his bench late in the game.
After his power-play tally — and a Max Domi insurance marker — to give Columbus a 4-1 lead early in the third period, the Finnish winger was on the ice for the next two Panthers goals that cut the deficit to one. Ultimately, he was one of five skaters out there for the Blue Jackets, but his notoriety as a negligent defensive player most likely gave grounds for his benching.
All of this led TSN’s Pierre Lebrun to ponder the possibility if the Columbus coach even wants to be employed.
There is never a dull moment for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, as they currently sit fifth in the East Division with a 10-12-6 record. In 18 games with the Blue Jackets, Laine has seven goals, 12 points and is averaging 18 minutes of ice time per game.
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