The Blue Jackets’ season hasn’t gone according to plan, and a tumultuous campaign has led to an up and down year for Ryan Johansen. The 23-year-old center had another tough night Tuesday as coach John Tortorella benched Johansen for the entire third period.
Johansen, who has six goals and 22 points in 31 games this season, played a season-low 11:03 Tuesday against the Dallas Stars and didn’t take a single shift in the third frame. His last shift of the game came with 4:35 remaining in the second frame. Post-game, when asked about Johansen’s status, Tortorella said it wasn’t an injury that kept Johansen from playing.
“Coach’s decision,” Tortorella said. “No explanation. I just didn’t play him.”
This isn’t the first time that’s happened this season, either. Earlier in the season, Johansen sat the final six minutes of an Oct. 22 game against the Minnesota Wild with no explanation given for his absence from the contest. Initial reports were that Tortorella wasn’t pleased with Johansen’s level of conditioning, but Johansen later returned to Columbus and missed two games with what teams called an illness.
While Tortorella wouldn’t comment on Johansen’s absence from the ice in the final frame, the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline commented that “many of [Johansen’s] passes were way off-line, and there were several neutral-zone turnovers and failed clearing attempts.”
Johansen is in the second season of a three-year, $12-million contract and is earning $3 million this season. In the final year of his contract, Johansen is set to earn $6 million. Before signing the three-year deal with the Blue Jackets, Johansen had held out through training camp and inked his deal only days before the regular season opened.
Following the Blue Jackets’ 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars Tuesday, the doors to the Columbus dressing room were closed and the players held a players only meeting. No team in the league has a worse record over their past 10 games than the Blue Jackets’ 2-5-3 mark.