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Jackets GM Kekalainen: ‘I really don’t care’ if Johansen was unhappy in AHL

May 21, 2013, 4:01 PM EDT

Jarmo

Yesterday, we passed along word that Ryan Johansen — Columbus’ first-round pick (fourth overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — was benched for a playoff game while with AHL Springfield.

Shortly after, Jarmo Kekalainen addressed the issue and gave insight on how he and the organization are going to handle player accountability moving forward.

“I think this is probably going to be a disappointment [to him], to say the least, maybe even a bit embarrassing,” the Jackets GM told the Columbus Dispatch. “Hopefully, he takes it the right way, gets to work this summer and shows us in the fall that he has taken it to heart and he’s ready to earn a spot on the [Blue Jackets].”

Earn a spot. Interesting word choice, considering Johansen played 40 of 48 games this year and 67 in his rookie campaign.

Kekalainen also addressed the possibility that Johansen might’ve been unhappy about his assignment to AHL Springfield, especially after playing almost the entire season with the Jackets and participating in a spirited playoff push.

“I don’t have any indication that he’d be unhappy,” Kekalainen said. “I really don’t care if he was unhappy.”

Okay then!

Johansen had just one assist and went an ugly minus-8 in the first three games of Springfield’s playoff series, and was scratched after head coach Brad Larsen ran it by Kekalainen and Jackets head coach Todd Richards.

It’s also not the first time Johansen’s received this sort of “punishment” from the organization — in early February, he was demoted to Springfield after Richards said his game went downhill.

There are two ways to look at this, really. The first is that it’s an example of how Columbus is going to operate under the new regime of Kekalainen and John Davidson — players are going to be held to a higher standard than ever before.

But there’s another angle to this, and it’s the organization’s history with handling young prospects. Derick Brassard‘s time in Columbus was littered with “disciplinary” moments (see here and here and here) before he was jettisoned to New York in the Marian Gaborik trade.

There was also the Nikita Filatov disaster, though that was hardly all on the Jackets.

It’ll be interesting to see how Johansen reacts not just to this latest setback, but the new organizational mandate overall.

And, how the rest of Columbus’ young players will react as well.

  1. sonvar - May 21, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    I hope Johansen learns from it and I hope this means Jarmo/management/coaches expect the same of all of the players. Despite just falling short of the playoffs this is not a team that can expect similar for next year. All the players need to continue working hard and improving their game if they expect to compete next year for a playoff spot.

  2. 19to77 - May 21, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    Bet they wish they had gone with Jeff Skinner in retrospect.

  3. barkar942 - May 21, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Oh, man! Is this guy gonna be the next Torts?
    My god, calling out a player for his inefficiencies?
    Treating a not performing player like a not performing player should be treated? Holding them to accountability?
    In other posters words here on PHT- “this guy is a tool”!
    (just in case no one notices-sarcasm).
    I seriously think all of the people on here that gripe about Torts, or any upper management people holding their players accountable like good management should do were all raised in households with absentee parents who never held them responsible for anything.
    These guys play a kids game as adults and make more money in a month than most of us posters make in a year! They should be held accountable to play to their full potential at all times!
    Sounds like Columbus is on the right track with JD in charge.

    • hockeyflow33 - May 21, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      There’s a difference between accountability and public embarrassment.

      If you think what these guys do is a kids game you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • 19to77 - May 21, 2013 at 7:36 PM

        No kidding. Never did get the whole “kids’ game” argument. Pure fantasy on the part of people insecure that athletes make more money than them. Definitely a kid’s game, all those concussions and muscle tears and hernias and surgeries. Just pure child’s play. All fun and games until someone loses an eye, isn’t that how it goes? Meanwhile, in the Pronger, Malhotra and Staal residences…

  4. csilojohnson - May 21, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    I think you guys are missing the point on the whole “kids game”….
    Its a game that kids play… Simple, no need for over analyzing.
    Kids don’t play electrician, customer service, janitor, etc on an organized team level. Hockey, football, soccer, etc. Yup.

    Torts is not a tool because he holds his players accountable. He is a tool because he is a whiney dbag.

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