Blue Jackets Forward Patrik Laine Enters NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, Will Be Away From The Team Indefinitely

By Coby Maeir on January 28, 2024 at 1:42 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Patrik Laine (29) skates with the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first period at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine has entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program and will be away from the team indefinitely, the club announced on Sunday. 

“Patrik has our complete support, and our sole concern is his well-being,” Blue Jackets Jarmo Kekalainen said in the team's release. “Out of respect for Patrik, we will have no further comment.”

The NHL and NHLPA also put out a statement.

"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."

On Sunday afternoon, Laine released a statement via his Instagram:

"Dear fans and supporters," Laine wrote. "I wanted to take a moment to address my need to step away from the game for a while. After careful consideration and discussions with my support network and the team, I have recognized the importance of prioritizing my mental health and well-being. Hockey has been my passion and my life, but I have come to realize that in order to perform at my best, I need to take this time to focus on myself. I am grateful for the understanding and support of my team, the league, and our fans during this time. I look forward to returning to the ice with a clear mind and renewed energy. Thank you for respecting my privacy during this time and for your continued support. With love, Patty."

Laine has posted 6-3--9 in 18 games this season and hasn't played since suffering a clavicle fracture on Dec. 14 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He traveled with the team on their current five-game road trip in hopes that he'd make a return before the all-star break but was sent home before Saturday's game with what head coach Pascal Vincent called a "setback." Before their game against the Kraken, Vincent clarified his comments and said that he "misspoke in the sense that he had a setback" because he wanted to "protect Patrik." 

"We care a whole lot about Patrik," Vincent said before the game. "We're going to miss this man for the time being. He's a big deal for us and we're going to do everything we can to help him. That program is there because it's valued. It's a great thing for the players."

"Those guys are hockey players," Vincent continued later. "That's what they do for a living, but they're people first. We're going to miss him on the ice, but taking care of our people is No. 1."

Injuries have plagued Laine's time in Columbus. In the last three seasons, he's played in 129 of a possible 246 games. The 25-year-old forward was selected by the Winnipeg Jets with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and is in the second year of a four-year, $8.7M AAV contract. 

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