It seems like Patrik Laine might have spoken too fast…
Laine told Pekka Jalonen of Finland’s Iltalehti on Monday that he believes he would be a first-line player on most NHL teams, but instead has pushed to play lower in the Jets lineup.
“When you’re having contract negotiations, one thing always is who are you playing with,” Laine told the newspaper Iltalehti. “With the merits I have, somewhere else I’d have an opportunity to play with the best players. Everybody who understands hockey knows that.
“There are top lines and then there is our line. But I play with the guys I’m told to play.”
While head coach Paul Maurice and captain Blake Wheeler reacted to his comments, fans have been left stunned by the kid’s behaviour amid a difficult contract impasse.
Laine might had taken the time to think back on what he said and had some remorse. His teammate Bryan Little revealed on Thursday that Laine contacted him this week after the restricted free agent spoke about not being put on the first line with Winnipeg’s top players like Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
“I actually talked to him two or three days ago,” said Little, who had Laine on his wing for most of last season. “He texted me and asked me to call him so I called him up and chatted for a few minutes. He was saying sorry and apologizing for just the way I think it was interpreted, which I kind of understood before I even talked to him.
“I know Patty well enough to know he’s not someone who’s going to purposely say negative things -especially about his teammates.”
Little made it clear that he felt no apologies were needed and that he can understand how Laine wants to be used to the best of his abilities.
“I said, ‘you don’t have to apologize to me, I get it,’” Little continued. “Sometimes things are misunderstood. I knew right away he wants to play with the best players. That’s kind of the way he was saying it. And yeah, ‘Scheifs’ and ‘Wheels’ are our best players and I’d like to play with those guys too.
“I think everyone does. When you’re young and you want to score more goals and get more points and play with the best and get more ice time and stuff like that. I think he was just voicing that - he just wants to be one of our go-to guys.”
Laine is coming off a season that saw his goal total dip from 44 to 30. He scored 18 of them in 12 games in November, and had long slumps after that, which prompted Maurice to make many lineup changes to get the most out of his guys.
The RFA is still negotiating with the Jets on a new deal and is reportedly seeking a short-term bridge contract at the moment. He might be able to get back to happy teammates when he signs on the dotted line.