Drouin needs a divorce from Canadiens and it's probably coming very soon

Mar 20 2023, 7:51 pm

After missing a team meeting last Friday, Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin was made an example of.

Head coach Martin St. Louis infamously decided to keep the player on the bench for the entirety of Saturday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which, ironically enough, is Drouin’s former team. As a result, the 27-year-old became the first player to register exactly 0:00 of ice time in a game for disciplinary reasons since Sam Reinhart back in 2017.

For another player, this incident might act as a one-off. Unfortunately for Drouin, things have been anything but easy for the Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts native since he was acquired by the Habs back in 2017 in exchange for a promising young defenceman by the name of Mikhail Sergachev.

Coming off a career year with the Lightning, and being a hometown kid, expectations for Drouin were through the roof before he even hit the Bell Centre ice. In his first season with Montreal, he produced 33 points in 77 games. While fans expected more, it was a respectable output nonetheless.

The 2018-2019 season, though, is when the first-round draft pick really hit his stride. Finding chemistry with former teammate Max Domi, Drouin got off to a very hot start and concluded that campaign with 18 goals and 53 points.

Still, many fans and analysts were skeptical about whether the Canadiens came out on top in the trade. Unfortunately for the Habs, the naysayers turned out to be right.

As Sergachev improved, solidifying a spot in a dominant Tampa Bay team’s top four, Drouin’s game slowly dwindled. Game after game, we watched the undeniably skilled player disappear. Perhaps it was the pressure of playing in this market, or maybe just a case of bad luck. Whatever the reason, Drouin was not playing his role.

Injuries were also a factor, keeping him out for the better part of two seasons. Then, in April 2021, Drouin announced that he would be taking an extended leave of absence for “personal reasons.” It was later revealed that he was dealing with insomnia and anxiety issues.

And as the Habs went on to shock the hockey world by advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, Drouin was once again on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Sergachev would go on to lift his second Stanley Cup, this time against the team that sent him packing.

When it was announced that Drouin would return to the lineup for the 2021-2022 season, fans were once again hopeful that he could still turn his game around. And while the player looked refreshed for the first time in a while, he was once again bitten by the injury bug, only dressing for 34 games.

That brings us to now. With 25 assists and one goal over 46 games this season, Drouin, who is playing out the final days of a six-year, $33,000,000 contract, has not been as abysmal on the ice as some have made him out to be. That gives the unrestricted free agent a little bit of negotiating power this summer. But given the way things have played out, those conversations will likely be had with other teams.

The Canadiens have turned the page on a lot of former players and staff members over the past two years. The chances of them giving Drouin another try after six disappointing seasons are slim to none.

In this case, a fresh start is what’s best for both the player and the organization.

Al SciolaAl Sciola

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