Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen was hospitalized during the off-season with an accelerated heart rate, but GM Jarmo Kekalainen has said it’s unrelated to Johansen’s current illness.
According to The Columbus Dispatch’s Shawn Mitchell and Aaron Portzline, Johansen, 23, was sent to hospital in the summer following a heart-rate issue, which was cause for the Blue Jackets to bring him to Columbus to be examined.
Kekalainen confirmed the report by Mitchell and Portzline, but said team doctors, “found no issues” with Johansen’s heart. Kekalainen also added that Johansen’s present ailment, which saw him sent home from the team’s road trip to Colorado, is not connected to the heart-rate problems.
News of Johansen returning to Columbus came out of nowhere. During the Blue Jackets’ Oct. 22 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Wild, Columbus’ eighth-straight loss, Johansen didn’t leave the bench for the final six minutes of the contest. It was an odd situation, especially considering Johansen is the team’s top-line center and Columbus was trailing by one goal with time winding down.
Initial reports said that new coach John Tortorella was unhappy with Johansen’s conditioning and chose to bench him. Tortorella denied the report, telling Mitchell it was “the first (he had) heard of that.” Tortorella did not say why Johansen didn’t skate in the final six minutes.
As for Johansen’s return to Columbus, which came just hours before the Blue Jackets were set to play the Avalanche, Tortorella said it was a matter of finding out what is ailing the center and when he’ll be available to return to action.
“He just didn’t feel well today,” Tortorella told Mitchell. “We knew he wasn’t going to play. He just didn’t feel well enough. When we leave (Denver tonight), we get home at I think 3:30, 4 (a.m.). We wanted to get him home, take care of him and get him evaluated as quickly as possible so we can get an idea of where we’re going to go with it.”
Heading into Saturday’s game, Johansen had only missed eight of the Blue Jackets’ previous 212 games and had been in the lineup for 172 consecutive games. Columbus picked up its first win of the season Saturday, defeating the Avalanche 4-3 in Tortorella’s second game behind the Blue Jackets bench.