Enough! Fans Need To Lay Off Drouin

By JD Lagrange – They are seen as Superheroes in Montreal. No even politician are more under the microscope than them. They make millions of dollars a year to entertain. Fans simply cannot relate to the lifestyle. Everywhere they go, they are recognized, sign autographs, talk to fans. With smart phones and social media, they have zero margin for error. They are players of the Montreal Canadiens and it comes with the territory.

One thing we often overlook and forget, is that they are human. They have feelings. They go through what we all go through, the ups and down of life. They lose parents, friends, like Joel Edmundson who has lost his father this past season. They have their own challenges, being away from family for long periods of time. Jeff Petry is a prime example. They suffer through injuries, work their butts off through rehab, as Carey Price can attest. They live under constant pressure. And sometimes, they crack.

Jonathan Drouin

When Jonathan Drouin took some time off to take care of his mental health, he wasn’t sleeping. In any aspect of life, if you don’t get sleep, it will be impossible to perform to your capabilities. It is even more true in such a competitive environment where high levels of conditioning is required like playing NHL hockey.

“I’ve had anxiety problems for many years, insomnia problems that relate to my anxiety. That week in Calgary where we played three games (April 23-24, 26), I missed all three of them and wasn’t feeling good. It was where I hit a wall for me, and it was time to step away from the game and literally take a step back from everything and kind of enjoy life. I needed it. It was hard for me to do at that time. Obviously, playoffs were coming around, so it wasn’t an easy thing to do. I’m proud of what I’ve done and I’m happy I did it. I’m 26 years old, so I wanted to do it at that point in my career and feel good for the next years.”

~ Jonathan Drouin, September 20, 2021

When the news came out, just about everyone showed their support towards the Canadiens’ player. The support was even overwhelming not only from Habs’ fans, but from the NHL community. Current and former players spoke about it openly, praising Drouin for having the courage to step away and coming out publicly about it. It was amazing to see, truthfully, as he was the target of a lot of abuse from a group of Habs’ fans prior to that.

Hypocrisy

It is one thing to state that you don’t like a trade, or the value of a trade. It becomes asine to turn it personal against the player(s) involved. Drouin didn’t ask for that trade to Montreal. He didn’t set the price going back. Yet, too many hold that against him – as they did against Shea Weber – by attacking him publicly on social media.

Unfortunately, many “fans” who praised him then didn’t take long to turn on him again. They showed – and are still showing – their true colours, proving without a doubt that their support back then was fake, only to look good at the time. You can claim to care and support all you want, if at first occasion you repeat your previous bullying behaviour, it’s hypocritical and clearly shows that you were not sincere in your original statement(s). There’s a word for those people: hypocrites.

Latest outing

Nick Suzuki and Drouin joined some kids playing street hockey recently. It is such a positive vibe for those kids to see their idols in person, joining them in fun games! And both Canadiens’ players clearly had a blast interacting with their young fans.

The Canadiens posted a few videos of the event. Below are individual videos of Suzuki and Drouin. I would like to draw your attention to the replies to those videos. If you don’t have Twitter, the gist of it is fans talking about how great Suzuki is for doing this. In the comments under Drouin’s video are often bashing him. Talking about a seemingly weight gain, about how horrible the trade is, about Drouin’s character, etc. It’s night and day. Yet, they’re both together enlightening the day of young kids on the streets!

So to those fans, please stop yourselves from… being yourselves! You come across as total jerks. You’ll be the first ones wondering why players don’t want to play in Montreal. You’ll be the first ones to complain about management being unable to lure free agents. You’ll be front and center, spewing your venom at the coaching staff to get fired, or players being traded. YOU are part of the problem. And if you had half a brain cell, you would see that and you would change that behaviour!

Oh but we want more Québécois on the Canadiens, they will claim. Why? Patrice Brisebois, José Théodore, Pierre Dagenais, Maxim Lapierre, Guillaume Latendresse, Francis Bouillon, David Desharnais, and now Jonathan Drouin, all fell victims of unnecessary abuse from Habs’ fans. Stop it. Enough is enough. You’re either a fan of the team or you’re not. You are NOT helping. The definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing over and over again, and expect different results. By the way, mental health issues are often not temporary. It’s a battle for the rest of your life.

More reading…

Drouin: A New Man On And Off The Ice

He’s been the scapegoat of many Habs’ fans since he was acquired by the Canadiens in return for Mikhail Sergachev. Many felt then (and still feel now) that Marc Bergevin gave up too much for him. And it got to the point where the pressure got to Jonathan Drouin so bad, that he had to take some much needed time off, time away from his team, the game, from it all. Supported by his doctors and loved ones, he felt the need to clear his head and look after number one: himself. That wasn’t an easy decision for him as he watched the team battle through adversity to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. But it was the right decision.

Upon his return, Jo has received nothing but an overwhelming amount of support from a vast majority of the fanbase, of NHL fans. After his interview with Chantal Machabée on RDS, many felt like finally, a NHL player opened up about mental health. You see, in spite of the great efforts to bring awareness to mental health with programs like “Bell, Let’s Talk” and others, nothing is stronger than having someone everyone knows share their experience. Drouin was that to the Canadiens, to the NHL in general. And that’s a good thing.

A changed man

Watching Drouin’s behaviour on and off the ice, there is no doubt that he’s a changed man. Remember his last meeting with the press when reporters kept pounding him about having only two goals? Remember when he lost it towards them and told them bluntly that there are two columns making up the points in hockey? Soon after, he took his leave of absence. But that was then and now, the smile is back on his face. For a guy who loves the game of hockey as he does, stepping away from it is not easy. Returning to it must feel like returning home after a long trip. It makes you appreciate things more.

So far this season, Drouin has five points in six games. In fact, he has been on five of the Canadiens’ ten goals this year. Further, when watching the game, he is the motor that makes his line tick. He already had great chemistry with Josh Anderson but he has since developed a strong friendship with him. And Christian Dvorak fits in perfectly with the two of them. They have been the most consistent line for the Habs so far in this early season and Drouin’s play is no coincidence.

Be kind, be sensible, be respectful

Now Carey Price is off doing the same thing for himself. While each situation is different, he has his own demons he’s battling right now and he’s learning how to deal with them. He’s learning the coping mechanisms to better handle the immense pressure placed on him for years. And that’s not done overnight.

It would be easy to think, particularly for those who aren’t affected by mental illnesses, that Drouin is out of the woods now, that he’s healthy. That’s not how it works. You don’t “beat” mental health. It’s something that follows you. But it’s something that with medication and applying learned coping mechanisms, someone can learn to deal with on a day to day basis. It’s something Drouin and others battling with mental health will have to face each day. And that’s why it’s important, as fans, as human beings, to continue to be kind. Being over-critical seems to be in too many people’s DNA today, particularly on social media. But we must make a conscious effort to remain kind in our reactions. It will make for a better place, a better world.

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