The 24-year-old could use a former Hab in his corner as he prepares for new season.
This isn’t news: Jonathan Drouin’s second season as a Montreal Canadiens forward fell short of expectations.
Despite tying a career-high in points with 53 over 81 games, Drouin frustrated fans at various points last season. This includes an 18-game stretch to end the year, as the Canadiens fought for their postseason lives, when he scored one goal and two assists. One of those assists came in the final game of the year versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, when the Habs’ playoff chances had dropped to zero.
“I’m a smart enough man to know that when you haven’t produced in 17 games, this city’s probably turning a little bit on you,” Drouin said at the end-of-season post-mortem in April. It’s been months since this was said, but it still rings in the ears.
The Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts native says he doesn’t check the media to see what’s being said about him. That’s probably a good thing. The opinions of the front office and his teammates matter much more than what us beat writers, bloggers, and in-betweens have to say. It’s clear that he will have to make adjustments on the ice if he wants to have a better season next year.
But why stop at just on-ice changes? The Canadiens should consider getting a former Hab to be a mentor for Drouin.
The 24-year-old has definitely had former Habs reach out to him to provide advice.
“Yeah, sometimes. You think about that,” Drouin said when asked about having a mentor. “There’s Guy Lafleur, I’ve met a couple times, and he’s come to my golf tournament. Maybe this summer if it happens … sometimes they’re nice enough to reach before I even reach [out] to them.”
It doesn’t have to be Lafleur, if he doesn’t want to, but Drouin having one of the greatest offensive players of all-time in his ear could help. There are so many alumni in the organization, illustrious in their own right, who could be at Drouin’s disposal. Considering the expectations that have been heaped upon him since he joined in 2017, it’s not a foreign concept to have him paired with a former player who has experienced the highs and lows of being a Canadien.
“That’s what makes this team cool and this organization cool where they have so many players … French players, French-Canadians, at the end of the day that’s what I am,” Drouin continued. “For me to have that knowledge, and sometimes just to talk to some of these people of how they’ve handled it…. And their times are different. There’s no Twitter, there’s no Instagram, but they still lived [it], and all that stuff. It’s not an easy city to play in, but it’s always nice to talk to ex-players and people that lived it.”
General manager Marc Bergevin invested a lot of his available funds in Drouin when he acquired and subsequently signed him in 2017. He believes Drouin will improve next season, gathering that impression from seeing his play and from meetings with him at season’s end.
“I care for [Jonathan], Claude [Julien] does too, and he cares for the Montreal Canadiens,” Bergevin said.
Perhaps there’s reason to believe that the Canadiens are exploring, or already have explored, having a mentor for Drouin. It could be a wise decision if they want him to realize his full potential next season.