It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why John Tortorella stapled Pierre-Luc Dubois to the bench.
The Columbus Blue Jackets’ incredibly talented but equally disgruntled center has made clear he wants a trade, something that has yet to materialize.
Things appeared to reach a breaking point Thursday.
In the first period of the Blue Jackets’ eventual 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dubois skated one of the most appalling shifts in recent memory. The 22-year-old moved lethargically, bumped into teammates and put on an embarrassing display in a puck battle.
Once he returned to the bench, he never hit the ice again. His final time on ice: Three minutes, 55 seconds.
You can watch the full shift here.
Tortorella generally is quick to rip his players publicly if they deserve it, and though Dubois did deserve a nice verbal lashing, Tortorella refrained.
“I’ve coached Luc like this for a couple of years as far as trying to get him to get some growth in his game and growth as a pro, so nothing changes there,” Tortorella said after the game on FOX Sports Ohio. “There’s more spotlight on it, I get that, I get that you guys have to ask me the questions. But I think you’re asking the wrong guy. I’m just a coach trying to make it work with a hockey club, trying to find a way to win games. The person you keep talking to me about, you should ask him.”
He does assign the minutes though, right?
“Yes, I do,” Tortorella responded. “And just like everybody else, it is what it is. I go with what I see and we’ll go from there. And you know what? … I really don’t make decisions as far as minutes. It’s up to the player to show me, and if there’s one thing I’m pretty easy to read on, is the minutes. You’re going to get out there if you play, if you play the proper way, and you’re going to get back out there. So the onus is on the player, and all players, and not just the player we’re talking about here that sat. It’s all the players. So I’m not a hard guy to read as far as that’s concerned.”
Dubois declined to speak to the media Thursday, by the way, so no one was able to ask him what was happening.
Tortorella has dealt with star players in Columbus who didn’t want to be there, most recently Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. He got them to buy in and play hard until they hit free agency.
Dubois seems so incredibly checked out that it’s hard to put any blame on Tortorella.