John Tortorella explains Patrik Laine benching: ‘There’s no free passes’

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Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella provided some insight into his decision to bench Patrik Laine for the majority of the third period and all of overtime in Thursday’s 5-4 loss against the Florida Panthers.

“You guys think I don’t want to play Patty? I mean, I want to play him,” Tortorella said Friday, according to team reporter Jeff Svoboda. “But I still have to make calls as far as how the players are playing at that particular time.

“I thought Patty probably played one of his best periods in the first period,” he continued. “He played really well. But I also have to make calls as the rest of his game is going on where he is at that particular time, especially late in the third period and us reeling a little bit.

“There’s no free passes because you’re notably the top gun.”

Laine snapped a seven-game pointless streak after tallying a goal and an assist. Despite the offensive production, the 22-year-old only saw the ice for 2:20 in the third period and didn’t play during the final seven minutes of regulation or in overtime after his line was on the ice for two goals against in the final frame.

The sniper was puzzled by his lack of ice time after the game, and said he thought he was “playing good.” Tortorella doesn’t necessarily see his decision to limit Laine’s ice time as a benching.