Vincent on benching Laine: 'Nobody is bigger than the Blue Jackets'
The 25-year-old has two goals and one assist in nine games this season, and Blue Jackets head coach Pascal Vincent is hoping the move will help Laine rediscover his previous form.
“I know what he can do on the ice,” Vincent said after Sunday's defeat. “I know his potential. He’s not happy about the decision, don’t get me wrong. But right now, I think Patty needs to take a deep breath. Go back to the working lab and get his touches back, get his shot back, get his confidence back, so he can be the Laine we all know he can be.
“It was a hard conversation, but nobody is bigger than the Blue Jackets.”
Laine is third-highest paid player on the Blue Jackets, carrying a cap hit of $8.7 million on his contract, which runs through 2025-26. Only Johnny Gaudreau ($9.75 million) and Zach Werenski ($9.58 million) carry higher cap hits on the team.
Selected second overall in 2016 by the Winnipeg Jets, Laine has been unable to replicate the success he had early in his career since being traded to Columbus in 2020. After scoring 28 or more goals - including a career-high 44 goals in 2017-18 - in each of his first four seasons, Laine has failed to top 26 with the Blue Jackets while dealing with various injuries.
He had 22 goals and 52 points in 55 games with the Blue Jackets last season, missing the playoffs for the third straight year in Columbus.
Blue Jackets on record skid
Scratching Laine did not provide a spark for the Blue Jackets Sunday as their winless skid was extended to nine games, tying a franchise record.
Columbus sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with a 4-11-4 record in their first season under Vincent.
“It’s frustrating for everyone,” the head coach said. “I see those guys in the room and I hear them on the bench, and they’re saying the right things. Their intentions are right.
“We still have a very young team, and going through adversity like this is not necessarily a bad thing. Hear me right: It’s not what we want. But when we look at the big picture over time here, with how we’re going to deal with this, we’re creating a sense of ‘We’re in this together.’
“Eventually it’s going to pay off. I’m convinced of that.”
The Blue Jackets will host the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday for a home date sandwiched between two-game road trips.