Nobody can deny that Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella is a straight shooter.
Ahead of his team’s clash with the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Tuesday, the two-time Jack Adams Award winner was asked why his star point producer wouldn’t be in the lineup.
It was a fair question. The Blue Jackets are currently hanging onto a playoff spot by the thinest of margins. They sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 69 points, the same total as Eastern Conference wild card teams. With just over 20 games remaining this season and Montreal being one of those wild card squads, it’s officially crunch time and teams need to be at their best.
So, with Artemi Panarin out, people began to connect the dots, because heading into Monday’s trade deadline, few players are getting more attention than the 27-year-old Russian.
He currently leads his team in points and has been the centre of plenty of speculation about whether he’ll be dealt to another team or remain with the Blue Jackets for the rest of the season. As a result, when it was announced that he wouldn’t be playing Tuesday night due to illness, some assumed that the organization may just be saying that to be keep him off the ice to avoid injury and protect his trade value.
Tortorella made is very clear that isn’t what’s going on.
— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) February 19, 2019
Well, I’m sure that more information than Panarin wanted shared with the public.
The story makes sense, though.
The 2016 Calder Trophy winner skated a season-low 16:09 minutes of ice time and finished minus-two in a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.
Based on his current health, what will happen to the one that they call ‘the Breadman’ between now and Monday should be the yeast of everyone’s worries.
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