In a bit of surprising move — if only because a lot of coaches might not have had the guts to do it –, the Columbus Blue Jackets have announced that Patrik Laine will be a healthy scratch for tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Laine, who has registered 2 goals and 1 assist in 9 games, has been struggling lately, going without a point in his last 4 games and seeing limited ice time in the past two matchups.
This decision comes after Laine was parked on the bench for the final 6:26 of a recent game, playing only 12:21 in total. Head Coach Pascal Vincent, displaying a commitment to accountability, defended the move, stating, “We know he’s better than that.” Vincent acknowledged the challenges of returning from injury but emphasized the need for improvement. He said that Laine hasn’t been himself since coming back from an injury and he advised the forward to go back to the lab, get his touches back and find his game.
Bold Move By the Blue Jackets’ Coach
Vincent’s bold decision to bench Laine for two consecutive games and now as a healthy scratch reflects a commitment to holding players accountable for their performance. Despite the initial surprise, some fans support the move, acknowledging the need for more from Laine. Vincent stressed, “Nobody is bigger than the Blue Jackets,” and he included Laine and himself in that statement. Emphasizing the team’s collective goals over individual player considerations, he explained, “… we need the best Patrick as possible.” and that involves getting his confidence back.
Laine’s frustration has been palpable, evident on the bench in recent games. The decision to scratch him for a night aims to provide a breather and an opportunity for reflection.
With an $8.7 million AAV cap hit for this year and the next two, Laine’s situation raises questions about the Blue Jackets’ strategy. The team, which made offseason moves to compete, now faces the potential need for immediate changes. The decision to scratch Laine will only increase the volume on potential rumors surrounding the team and player.
Johnny Gaudreau was recently also scratched for a good chunk of a game, showing this isn’t just about Laine.
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