Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella benched star Pierre-Luc Dubois for most of a game this season before the center was traded to the Winnipeg Jets.
Monday, Tortorella benched another prominent player: Star winger Patrik Laine, who came back to Columbus in the Dubois trade.
Laine didn't play after the 13:41 mark of the second period after a poor defensive play on a tying goal by the Carolina Hurricanes' Brock McGinn.
But Tortorella said that wasn't what led to the benching.
"It wasn't because of the missed assignment," he told reporters. "There's a number of things that come into play with that, and that will stay in the locker room."
Defenseman Dean Kukan also didn't play after a mistake on the Hurricanes' first goal.
"It's what I feel I need to do," Tortorella said. "The last thing I want to do is bench a player. But … we're just disjointed in all areas, 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. I did with Patty and I felt I needed to do it with Kuks in where he was struggling so bad. … Kuks has given us a lot of good hockey, but the last couple of games, it's been a struggle."
The Blue Jackets won 3-2 with the shortened bench, getting a winning goal from Jack Roslovic, the Columbus-area native who also arrived in the Dubois trade.
Tortorella, a two-time coach of the year, is trying to achieve consistency for a 6-5-3 team that sits second in the Central Division.
"If you're not giving 100% and looking like you're trying, he's going to sit you," said forward Cam Atkinson. "It's no secret. It goes for everybody, myself included. I've been that guy."
Atkinson predicted that Laine would have a strong game next time.
Said Tortorella: "I'm sure Patty and I will talk about certain things that we're looking for here, and I'll try to make him understand and I've got to listen to him also and get about it here.
"I've got to get this team to play as a team and care as a team or we'll continue to play the hockey that we're playing right now. Yeah, that's my job."
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