March 8, 2021

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Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine already benched by John Tortorella just four games in

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Welcome to Columbus, Patrik Laine!

It’s just four games into his tenure in Ohio and the Finnish winger has already found himself in John Tortorella’s doghouse. In the Blue Jackets’ 3-2 win over the Hurricanes Monday night, he played just 11 minutes and 14 seconds; he rode the pine for the last 6:19 of the second period and the entire final frame.

“Nah, that’s gonna stay in house,” Tortorella told reporters postgame in regard to why Laine sat. “I know you guys are going to try to work me on that. No, it wasn’t because of the missed assignment. There’s a number of things that come into play with that. That’ll stay in the locker room.”

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That missed assignment he mentioned was on the game-tying goal by Brock McGinn in the second period — just over two minutes after Cam Atkinson gave the home team the lead on a penalty shot. The video shows Laine just chilling in the right circle on the goal, not trying to pick up the open Hurricanes player. Tortorella, however, made clear it was more than just that one moment to earn the benching.

“Torts expects us to play as hard as we can,” Atkinson said postgame. “It doesn’t matter who you are, and I think everyone knows that. If you’re not giving 100 percent and looking like you’re trying, he’s going to sit you. It’s no secret.”

Now in his sixth season in Ohio, Tortorella expects a lot — at a high-level — from his players on a nightly basis. While he said postgame that benching a player is “the last thing I want to do,” the feisty, long-tenured bench boss does have a penchant for sitting guys when he isn’t happy. He did it to Pierre-Luc Dubois before shipping him north to the Winnipeg Jets for Laine and hometown kid Jack Roslovic on Jan. 23. He did it to Laine Monday.

“We have a day off tomorrow. I am sure Patty and I will talk,” Tortorella said when asked how he thinks his recently acquired 22-year-old winger will handle watching from the bench for more than half the game. “I know you think it’s a big thing, 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.”

Added Tortorella: “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.”

Entering Monday night, Laine had three goals in three games and was averaging just under 20 minutes a night. The “other guy” in that trade, Roslovic, has seven points in seven games with the Blue Jackets, including a beauty of a game-winner.

As for the Laine benching, well of course Twitter was all over it.

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