Photo credit: Columbus Blue Jackets YouTube
We all know that John Tortorella is never going to coddle his players when it comes to his coaching style but his benching of Pierre-Luc Dubois was not the wrong move.
Torts has long been known for his hard nosed approach in hockey, whether it be behind the bench or with reporters postgame. He has also been known to be a coach that will have his players backs no matter what and will go through extraordinary lengths to take bullets for his players. Look no further than his altercation with Larry Brooks over a column about Wade Redden when Torts was Rangers head coach.
While we all do not know the full story about why Dubois wants out of Columbus and if it has anything to do with Torts barrage on him in the bubble in Toronto in the playoffs, this whole situation has started to spiral badly out of control. Dubois had said that despite his trade request becoming public he would still come to work every day ready to play and be a pro. Only problem with that is the stunt he pulled Thursday night in the first period against Tampa Bay.
Here's the clip of Dubois "puck battle." pic.twitter.com/USfqZ5MpO0— nmbaseball (@nmbaseball) January 22, 2021
We have all seen John Tortorella have short leashes for certain players throughout his coaching tenure. Look no further his constant battles with Marian Gaborik or his rocky relationship with Chris Kreider and trying to make him a three zone player. Who could ever forget his epic benching of Stu Bickel in the marathon playoff game against the Washington Capitals in 2012. Or the ever controversial decision to start Eddie Lack in the Heritage Classic over Roberto Luongo.
So as we have seen Torts is no stranger to controversy throughout his coaching career but his decision to bench PLD is far from being a controversial move.
Columbus has been know as a team under Torts that will fight, scratch, and claw no matter how undermanned they are or if they’re deficient of talent. Effort has never been questioned as part of the John Tortorella Columbus Blue Jackets. So the fact that a player on a Tortorella coached team thought it was a good idea to just stop playing and think they’d get away with it just wasn’t thinking clearly. There is no excuse Dubois can make for the fact that he clearly just stopped playing and gave up on a puck battle with Tyler Johnson.
Don’t get me wrong here, Dubois is an incredibly talented player but he’s not Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, or Mark Messier here. It’s not like he is the second coming of Sidney Crosby, and just for the record none of these players would ever do what Dubois did to just try and get their way. It’s one thing to ask for a trade and make it known you’re unhappy but you never give up on your teammates and Dubois deciding to stop competing for a puck is exactly what he did.
A couple years ago when rumors were flying about what Columbus should do with Artemi Panarin and Bobrovsky due to their pending UFA status and that they didn’t want to re-sign in Columbus, the team handled the matter in house and they rallied together for one last playoff run. Both players Bobrovsky and Panarin gave the organization everything they had and helped upset the heavily favored Lightning in the playoffs. Both players were pros about their situations and still gave every ounce of energy to their teammates and organization. Dubois should really take a page from their books on professionalism and how to conduct yourself.
While Torts doesn’t look the best for making a bad public situation worse with his benching, he was sending his team and that player in particular a message that quitting on the team will never be tolerated. I for one can’t blame the coach for doing what’s in the best interest of the team and not one player in particular.