Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

AHL Syracuse coach surprised by Drouin's refusal to play

TORONTO — AHL Syracuse coach Rob Zettler was caught offguard when Jonathan Drouin informed him he would not attend the Lightning affiliate's game against the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday night.

Drouin made Zettler aware of his intentions after the Crunch's morning skate at Ricoh Coliseum and was not on the bus to the rink for the game.

"He seemed to be enjoying himself and engaged with everybody," said Zettler, who maintained he had no issues with Drouin, sent to Syracuse by the Lightning on Jan. 2 to get playing time after injuries. "He made a decision not to play, so we'll move forward and let the powers that be in Tampa handle it from here."

The forward was announced as a healthy scratch before the Crunch's 5-4 overtime loss to the Marlies.

The Lightning suspended indefinitely without pay for refusing to play in the game. It declined to comment beyond a statement announcing the suspension.

Wednesday's twist was the latest in an ongoing saga between Drouin and the Lightning.

This month Drouin's agent made public that he had requested a trade for the forward in November.

After the Lightning announced the suspension, agent Allan Walsh said in a statement the Lightning told him a few days ago that a trade "was moving closer to completion." Walsh and Drouin proposed that the wing not play in the next few AHL games but continue to practice to avoid any injury that might prevent a trade, the agent said.

"Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning refused this reasonable request," Walsh said. "However, Jonathan was not willing to accept this risk."

In seven games since joining the Crunch, Drouin has two goals and an assist, and is minus-1.

Several NHL clubs had scouts in attendance at Ricoh Coliseum for Wednesday night's game, including the Canucks, Senators, Jets and Canadiens.

"(Drouin) was working hard, he was doing a lot of good things," Zettler said. "Played seven games. I expected him to play."

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

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