Nikolaj Ehlers of the Winnipeg Jets
Photo credit: NHL.com

Nikolaj Ehlers Opens Up About the Patrick Paine Situation

Published March 17, 2024 at 6:10 PM
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With the Winnipeg Jets in Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets tonight, there will be no reunion between two close friends who are now playing on different teams. While waiting for the game to take place, Winnipeg's Nicholaj Ehlers has opened up on his buddy Patrik Laine and his recent struggles on and off the ice.

Ehlers Makes Heartfelt Comments on Former Teammate Laine



Ehlers was thrilled when the Winnipeg Jets took Laine second overall in 2016, with the two forming a quick and close friendship. Ehlers told the Winnipeg Free Press today that being in Columbus and knowing that Laine won't be in the lineup for the Blue Jackets is a hard thing to see.

"We spent pretty much every day together back in Winnipeg.


Not seeing him play, and knowing how much he loves playing, it sucks."

Over the past couple of seasons, Laine has faced hardships on and off the ice. Injuries, combined with a drop in production, the death of his father, and mental health issues was enough that Laine entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance program in late January. No timetable has been set for his return.

Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers on His Relationship With Patrik Laine



Ehlers said he still speaks to Laine regularly, and was somewhat reserved with his answer when asked how he was doing.

"He's doing alright.

The mental health part of it is more important than anything. It's kind of crazy how that works. Some days you're completely fine, other days you're not. I think, for him, it's just been getting away from the rink and having people to talk to and get back to getting better."

Ehlers reflected on his relationship with his former teammate, remembering him as a guy who loved to laugh.

"He would make fun of himself. I would make fun of him. He would make fun of me. That's just the way it worked. I believe everyone is pretty hard on themselves in this league. You have to be to stay in this league. But maybe he was a little harder on himself than some guys."

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Ehlers said what Laine is going through is more important than the sport of hockey, but he's very hopeful Laine can get back to doing what he loves.

"(This is) bigger than hockey. I sure hope he comes back."
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March 17   |   416 answers
Nikolaj Ehlers Opens Up About the Patrick Paine Situation

Do you think Laine will return to the Columbus Blue Jackets this season?

Yes6415.4 %
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