After benching star players Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine in several games, the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pascal Vincent, has made Laine a healthy scratch in the team’s game tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers (X Link). In nine games played this year, Laine has two goals and one assist, as well as a -6 rating.
Columbus has certainly struggled to generate offense from their star players at the forward position this year, as Boone Jenner leads the way with 10 points in 18 games. Before tonight’s game against the Flyers, defensemen Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski lead the team in points with 11 each on the year.
Spending a combined $18.45MM on both Gaudreau and Laine (22% of their entire cap space), the two have only combined for 10 points in 27 games played, hardly what the Blue Jackets should be expecting at that dollar value. Although the bad start to the year is not solely on the shoulders of Gaudreau and Laine, this is a decision that has appeared to be brewing for quite some time.
In a report from Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch, Vincent was quoted as saying, “It was a hard conversation … but nobody is bigger than the Blue Jackets“. Understandably, Laine is reportedly unhappy with the decision made by his new coach, but Vincent is adamant about sending a message to the entirety of the team about the lack of offense.
After being acquired by Columbus back in the 2020-21 season, even though Laine has scored 60 goals and 72 assists in 165 games as a Blue Jacket, he has historically been known to go through streaks as a player. Notably, from mid-December to mid-February last year, Laine would only score five goals in 22 games, before scoring eight goals in 16 games to end the season.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how Laine’s situation in Columbus continues to play out, as being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career may cause his frustrations to boil over.