It was announced by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday that forward Patrik Laine has entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. The Jackets will continue to be without Laine for an “indefinite period while he receives care.” This comes after earlier this week, head coach Pascal Vincent announced that Laine had experienced a “setback” in his recovery from an injury. This setback happened on the cusp of Patrik Laine being able to return to play at some point during this five game road trip the Blue Jackets are currently on.
The forward has been out with injury due to a broken clavicle since December 14th, 2023. Laine had been traveling with the team on their recent road trip when he was sent back to Columbus from Vancouver. After a morning skate on Saturday, January 27th, Pascal Vincent said, “He’s going to head back to Columbus, it’s just a setback with the injury.” Vincent then went on to state, “He’s not going to be able to play on the trip, so he went back.”
In an official announcement from the club, the Blue Jackets quoted General Manager Jarmo Kekkalainen as saying, “Patrik has our complete support, and our sole concern is his well-being. Out of respect for Patrik, we will have no further comment.”
The NHL/NHLPA has also released a statement that says:
“The National Hockey League Players’ Association and National Hockey League announced today that forward Patrik Laine of the Columbus Blue Jackets will be unavailable to his club for an indefinite period while he receives care from the Player Assistance Program of the NHLPA and NHL. Under the terms of the joint program, he will return to the Club when cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Laine has been struggling with injury for the past few years. He has only been able to play in 18 out of 48 games so far this season, he had previously missed nine games this year due to a concussion.
This recent announcement about Patrik Laine coincides with some recent trade rumors as well. Deren Dreger on the segment ‘Insider Trading’ reports that GM Jarmo Kekkalainen is willing to “listen” to some offers for “A couple of big-name guys like Patrik Laine and Ivan Provorov, and there are others.” Here’s his full quote:
“Jarmo Kekalainen, the general manager of the Blue Jackets, is willing to listen on a couple of big-name guys like Patrik Laine and Ivan Provorov, and there are others. Obviously, Adam Fantilli is untouchable, and there are other young players that the Blue Jackets won’t want to move. A number of teams, though, are also very interested in veteran Boone Jenner, but he’s a heart-and-soul guy with a terrific contract, so it’s highly unlikely that the Blue Jackets will consider moving him. But again, Jarmo Kekalainen and the Columbus Blue Jackets are listening.”
With the rumors swirling, a trade may wait until Laine can return to the NHL. While his point totals since joining the Blue Jackets have not been as high as they were in Winnipeg, Laine is still considered by some to be one of the top wings in the league. After this season, he will have two years remaining on his contract with an $8.7 million cap hit.
Ivan Provorov was also listed as a potential candidate for a trade. Although recently acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers, the 27-year-old defenseman may be a valuable trade asset. Provorov is currently third in assists on the Blue Jackets, posting a total of 23 points in 48 games played so far this season. While Laine may be a more valuable player, Provorov may have an easier contract to move. With one year left and a $4.725 million cap hit, he may be a good fit for a team that is getting closer to playoff contention.
David Jiricek Unhappy With Current Situation
Reports are now coming out that young defenseman David Jiricek is showing some frustration with the Blue Jackets organization. Recently Jiricek has been shuffled back and forth between the Jacket’s AHL affiliate team, the Cleveland Monsters.
In anticipation of Boone Jenner’s return, David Jiricek was originally assigned to the Monsters on January 18th.
After Blue Jacket’s D Nick Blankenburg was activated off of IR and assigned to the Cleveland Monsters, David Jiricek was recalled to the NHL team on January 21st.
After activating D Zach Werenski off of the injured reserve on January, 25th, the Blue Jackets assigned Jiricek to the Monsters again.
Since then, D Adam Boqvist has been placed on injured reserve, and Nick Blankenburg has been recalled to the NHL team as of January 27th.
The Blue Jackets intend to have Jiricek get top minutes in the AHL to help him develop further, as opposed to getting only a few minutes or being a healthy scratch in the NHL.
David Jiricek voiced his concerns to reporter Aaron Portzline from ‘The Athletic’, Jiricek said, “I played good hockey in the NHL, I am an NHL player right now. That’s my opinion, that I should be in the NHL right now.” He goes on to compare himself to other players from his draft class, a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, Jiricek goes on to say, “I see guys from the same draft, like Nemec and Korchinski … they get a chance on the power play … I can compare with them. I just want a chance to play like that.”
The quote ends with him saying, “They told me last game was not good enough for me. I told them I don’t think so, but that’s your opinion. I was out of the lineup after that. A whole month now, it feels like I haven’t played.”
Between injuries, trade rumors, recent trade talks with Elvis Merzlikins, Patrik Laine being out, and now David Jiricek voicing his discontent, the Columbus Blue Jackets are facing quite a few obstacles to overcome.