In his fourth game with the Columbus Blue Jackets after their enormous trade with the Winnipeg Jets, Laine was sidelined Monday late evening during the Blue Jackets’ 3-2 success over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Laine, 22, sat almost the whole second half of the game, playing simply 11:14. The No. 2 pick from the 2016 draft had three goals in his initial three games with Columbus, including two for Sunday, however clearly isn’t playing up to Tortorella’s principles.
“That’s gonna stay in house. I know you guys are gonna try to work me on that,” Tortorella told reporters regarding Laine’s benching. “There’s a number of different things that come into play with that, and that’ll stay in the locker room.”
Tortorella historically has a short chain with players on the off chance that he feels they’re not playing adequate, paying little heed to their history. His conflicting with Pierre-Luc Dubois went before him being managed for Laine and Jack Roslovic.
“The last thing I want to do is bench a player,” said Tortorella, who coached the Rangers from 2009 to 2013. “We’re just disjointed in all areas — quite honestly both on and off the ice. It’s an easy thing to bench a player. That’s the last thing I want to do, but If I think I need to do it, then I need to do it.”
Cam Atkinson, in his 10th season with the Blue Jackets, has been on the receiving end of some of Tortorella’s tough love. He sits close to Laine in the locker room and says the two have spoken about Laine’s performance.
“We’re a pretty open group,” Atkinson said. “He knows. He’ll be the first one to admit it: he just has to be better, plain and simple.”
Laine has 143 goals and 110 assists in 310 career NHL games.