Patrik Laine sounds off on first meeting with Mike Babcock
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Patrik Laine sounds off on first meeting with Mike Babcock

Already changes are likely to be imposed on the star forward:



Last season, an experiment took place in Columbus when star forward Patrik Laine was briefly deployed as centre. It appears that he remains open to theposition change under new Blue Jackets head coach Mike Babcock.

While the two men discussed for the first time since Babcock was officially hired on July 1, Laine did not disclose what was said between them, though he talked about his new bench boss’ approach and reputation.

“We’ve talked about it a little bit,” Laine said of moving to centre to “I’ve been working on quite a bit of stuff, but you never know. I mean, there’s always a possibility. It’s totally up to what they want, but I’d be open to it.

“We had a good talk. [Babcock is] hard but honest, so I respect that. But everything we talked about there is private, and I’m not going to tell you this.”

Laine experimented at center for just two games in March as the Blue Jackets needed relief at the position after an injury to Sean Kuraly. The former Winnipeg Jet recorded four assists in two games, but was then taken out by a season-ending triceps strain on March 23.

Laine is looking forward to return to action under Babcock, and with the other new additions made by the Jackets over the summer. Columbus selected third-overall pick Adam Fantilli, who Laine plans to take under his wing.

“I watched [Fantilli] in the World [Championships]. He seems like a big kid with a lot of skill,” Laine said. “I’m excited to have him over here and will try to help him out as much as I can. It’s tough to come into the League at 18, as well as a high pick. I’ve kind of been there and done that.”

The Columbus will look to reach the postseason in 2024 after missing out for the third straight year last season, finishing with a 25-48-9 record in 2022-23.

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