Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella has made it clear to everyone out there: forward Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out. He admitted that much on live radio on Wednesday.
“Yeah, he wants out,” Tortorella told “Rothman and Ice” on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus. “He spoke to the team, as we do here. It’s a little bit different than [Artemi Panarin] and [Sergei Bobrovsky] were. This is a 22-year-old kid. It doesn’t happen that often, so he has been honest with the group. I wish he was a little bit more honest as far as reasons why. I still haven’t really gotten to that, but I think he needs to speak on that. I won’t.”
This is not going to help general manager Jarmo Keklainen, who would prefer to hold on to his top forward or get a good and calculated return for him. We bet the Jackets’ asking price will likely be sky-high for Dubois, who was their 2016 draft’s third overall pick.
Another thing that isn’t helping the GM is that Torts’ comments on radio have made the feud with his star player even worse. This is how Pierre LeBrun explained it last night on Insider Trading on TSN.
“On the one hand you find it endearing every time that John Tortorella will not duck a question not matter how delicate it may be. And in this case on local Columbus radio, No. 1, he confirmed that Pierre Luc-Dubois wanted out which is important to note because the GM and the player in this situation had actually kind of danced around it. Well the coach has put it out there. No. 2, John Tortorella asked on the radio station, ‘I don’t quite know why he wants out. We got to get to the bottom of this.’ So, again, you like the fact that John Tortorella is always honest about these things, but the fact is it doesn’t make his GM’s job any easier. Jarmo Kekäläinen wants to be patient on this front. That’s what other teams are telling us, but this will be heat on it. Pat Brisson, the agent for Pierre Luc-Dubois, no doubt in my mind already has probably talked to the team about this comment from Tortorella. This is an ongoing situation.”
Kekalainen has proven in the past that he’s willing to wait players out if the right deal doesn’t come along. In 2019, star players Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky both left Columbus in free agency after previously indicating they wouldn’t re-sign with the club. Some fear that Dubois agrees with them on the quality of the market in Columbus, stating that the young forward wants out to play in a larger market.
Torts was able to admit that Dubois had a good camp, but remains on a short leash. Yeah, that feud is far from over…
“[Dubois] has had a good camp, but it’s a short leash with me as far as this is concerned,” Tortorella said. “He needs to continue to do the things to help this team win and be the best teammate he can be, or I’m not sure where it goes. It’s a situation, and we’ll go to it day by day.”
Dubois put up 18 goals and 49 points in 70 games for Columbus last season and an additional 10 points in 10 playoff games. Suffice it to say that if Dubois is really hitting the trade market, we’re not surprised there’s no shortage of interested suitors. It was recently reported that the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets are greatly interested in his services.
“It’s very difficult to me when a guy doesn’t want to be here at such a young age and the amount of time we’ve poured into him to try to develop him and is just looking to go,” Tortorella said. “It’s hard for me. I’m not sure where it goes with me as the season gets going, I’ll be quite honest with you, because I want to spend my time developing the people that want to be here, but I still have to coach the hockey team to be the best it can be.”