By now, everyone in the hockey world knows things are breaking down between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Columbus is off to a 1-2-2 start and the 22-year-old forward has made his intentions clear. He wants out. This was apparent even after he signed a two-year deal worth $10 million just days before training camp.
Thursday, head coach John Tortorella benched his forward for most of Columbus’ game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Dubois played just 3:55 of the game and sat for the second and third periods, as well as the overtime frame.
Columbus lost the game, with the Lightning snagging the 3-2 victory.
By Friday, the involved and/or aggrieved parties were sweeping into downplay mode and the hockey cliches were flying.
“It wasn’t the first time I got benched by Torts,” Dubois said. “And I wasn’t the first guy that got benched by Torts. Whether it’s Torts or another coach, guys get benched, and I think it’s a thing they’ve got to learn from. It’s definitely something you don’t want to repeat, and for it not to repeat itself (I’ve) got to be better.”
Social media is replete with footage of Dubois’ 3:55 (you can find some not-so-hot takes on our Twitter feed) and it is plain to see that the forward isn’t putting in what you would call “maximum effort.”
For the coach’s part, Torts gonna Torts.
“He doesn’t get benched for one shift last night – this has eroded and it just kept eroding in the first five games,” Tortorella said. “And I think a lot of people are putting a bigger deal on it because of the extenuating circumstances. You guys (the media) can do that. I’m just coaching athletes, and I will not allow our standard of play and our culture and how we go about our business here change.”
Tortorella added he wasn’t sure if Dubois would suit up Saturday against Tampa, but he did reference a previous situation in Columbus involving departing players Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin.
“That elephant in the room was cleaned up very quickly, and they were pros and they played,” Tortorella said. “This situation, it’s a younger player, it’s not free agency, it’s wanting out. It falls on the player, how he handles the situation. We’ve been honest, we had the (team) meeting, then it comes down to the play.”
There’s no doubt this situation needs to be fixed and fixed yesterday. There may be a subtext to this and there may not be, but Dubois’ play has been marginal at best and he can do better.
Dubois led the team in scoring last season and certainly can get his bread in Columbus. But pumping the brakes because he doesn’t want to be a Blue Jacket is not going to ingratiate himself to teammates, fans, or any future organizations looking for a young forward to style in their image.