Concerning reports about Blue Jackets players following news of Laine's personal leave
Zuma Press  

Concerning reports about Blue Jackets players following news of Laine's personal leave

Add in Merzlikins' trade request, Babcock's firing and it's clear something isn't right here.



In case you missed the news this past weekend, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine announced that he was taking a leave of absence from the team and returning to his native Finland, citing personal reasons and the need to improve his mental health.

Laine's father passed away two years and, by all accounts, the two were very close. Laine has previously said that his father was his mentor in hockey and in life and that the two spoke to each other every single day. It's been posited by fans that maybe Laine didn't take the time he needed back in 2021 when his father died and that he's been trying to power through the past few seasons. You can imagine how difficult it must be for a young man with so much pressure on his shoulders to lose his father and mentor. Personally, I think it's commendable that Laine has decided to take the necessary time to grieve his father's death and to come to terms with his new life moving forward.

There are, of course, fans though who will call Laine 'soft' and question his commitment to his team by leaving mid-season to work on his personal problems. Personally, I think those fans are out to lunch and need a reality check of their own. What I think does need to be addressed though is the fact that this isn't the first time we've heard of a Blue Jackets player needing to step away from the team, whatever their reasons may be. Goalie Elvis Merzlikins has reportedly requested a trade this season and there's been a laundry list of players who have begged out of the city in recent years. Pierre-Luc Dubois, the man Laine was traded for, infamously demanded a trade a few years back and superstars Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky both split town the moment they could, despite the team having a strong roster.

All of this is to say... 'what gives?'

What's the deal with Columbus? Why does seemingly no one want to play for this team?

NHL insider Frank Seravalli reported yesterday that some of the Blue Jackets players simply don't want to play for GM Jarmo Kekkalainen and head coach Pascal Vincent.

From Seravalli's most recent Daily Faceoff podcast:

“It’s not that people don’t want to play in Columbus, it’s that players don’t want to play in Columbus with this management group and with this coaching staff.”

- Frank Seravalli

That's pretty damning, in my opinion.

But really... can you blame these players?

There's been so much instability with this team during Kekalainen's entire reign as GM going back to 2013. He's made some good moves, some terrible moves and, frankly, some perplexing moves. Is this team really any better off now than they were back in 2013? It's time to clean house and give this team a fresh start. Until then, I can't see any players getting excited at the prospect of suiting up for the Blue Jackets.

Source: Frank Seravalli