Canadiens Jonathan Drouin understands fans frustration with him
|Montreal Gazette 09 Apr 2019 at 17:59|
Drouin became a target for angry fans as he went pointless in 16 of the last 18 games with one goal and two assists during that span and the Canadiens missed the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by two points.
“I don’t have to read Twitter to know what’s going on in the city about myself,” Drouin said Tuesday as the Canadiens players cleaned out their lockers in Brossard. “I don’t put myself in that situation where I read tweets, I turn on the TV to sports, I don’t do that. But I’m a smart enough man to know that when you haven’t produced in 17 games this city is probably turning a little bit on you. It’s done it in the past.
“It doesn’t change the fact that I love playing in Montreal and I want to be here,” added Drouin, who has four seasons remaining on his six-year, US$33-million contract. “I think I’ve said it, I own it to the fans and everyone to not produce for those 20 games. I’m able to look myself in the mirror and say that I could have done a better job and should have done a better job. But it’s part of life.”
Drouin finished the season with 18-35-53 totals, matching his NHL career high in points after posting 21-32-53 totals with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2016-17 before being traded to the Canadiens in exchange for defenceman Mikhail Sergachev. But Drouin didn’t produce when the Canadiens needed him most down the stretch this season.
“For me, I had 50 or 60 games where I was happy about my play,” Drouin said. “It was consistent. Obviously, those 20 last games where it wasn’t consistent or wasn’t the way I wanted to play. For me, that’s on me as well … that’s on me to own that and I own my play. I’m the player that goes on the ice and plays, so for me I’m not satisfied. I’m not very happy with the way I played, but that’s something you can’t change and it happened.”
When asked to explain why he stopped producing, Drouin said: “I’d love to tell you. But again, sometimes a lot of people look at production — look at he’s not producing, he’s not doing anything. For me, it wasn’t the case where I hit that stretch. I got moved lines, I was playing with KK (Jesperi Kotkaniemi) and Army (Joel Armia) and we were trying to figure out ways to be good every night. We didn’t hang our head down and maybe that goes for me in Tampa learning that or this year when that happened. We were playing eight minutes, we were in a well-positioned place in the playoffs, so it was easy for us, for me, to come to the rink, be excited to come here and if it was eight minutes, if it was 13, 14, I don’t control that. I was hoping for another stretch like that in that time of the year.
“I understand the frustration of the fans on me and some of that stuff,” Drouin added. “But it’s the way it went and hopefully next year it’s not how it goes.”
Drouin had success early in the season when he was playing on a line with Max Domi, but coach Claude Julien never put them back together when Drouin was struggling to try and help him get out of his slump.
“We did have chemistry,” Drouin said. “But that line was playing pretty well when Lehky (Artturi Lehkonen) went up there (with Domi and Andrew Shaw). Again, that goes with the maturity part where I’m able to understand. I didn’t go to coach, I didn’t go to see Claude as a coach to say put me with Domi and that stuff. That’s not in my control. That’s not what I look at doing. For me, it was just about playing hockey, if it was with KK, if it was eight minutes, I was just going to play hockey and give my best and try to help this team. I think I’ve learned now that some stuff you can’t control, some stuff you can control, and when you’re given an opportunity to do something you want to take it. I’m disappointed in the season, but I didn’t hang my head. I didn’t give up.
“You can go back where you’re playing eight minutes … it’s hard to be Jonathan Drouin,” Drouin added. “I’m not blaming the coaching staff, I’m not blaming anyone for playing me those minutes. There’s a reason why. Me and Claude talked about it where if I was playing that well, if I was playing that great, you would be playing those 17 minutes, 18 minutes. There’s a reason why some nights it was 12 and that’s on me as well. That’s not only on the coaching staff. That’s on me to step up my game and be better.”
Drouin said he has decided not to play for Team Canada at the IIHF Hockey World Championship next month in Slovakia. When asked why, Drouin said: “You’ll see later. There’s a little injury.”